Steve Aschburner, one of my all-time favorite NBA writers, chided Shaq for Shaq’s comments regarding Mo Williams. (Read the original comments HERE) (NBA.com)
Convenient, isn’t it, how O’Neal can switch so fluidly in his pronouns. When things go wrong, it’s all “they,” “he” and “me.” When he can strain to stay linked to current difference-maker like James, this former difference-maker breaks out the “we.”
Look, Shaq’s candor in general is great, and he gets the entertainment component of pro sports better than any athlete of his generation (maybe overgets it, given his distracting side ventures). But at 38, with a veteran’s minimum contract, having played for more franchises that didn’t win titles with him than those that did, he needs to adjust. O’Neal is at the Robert Parish-in-Chicago, Glenn Robinson-in-San Antonio, John Salley-in-L.A. stage of his impact and career. He needs to sound like it.
Come to think of it, maybe Shaq’s diminishing stature makes it easier for him to find targets his own size after all.
Look, I’ll be the first to admit it: Shaq can be a bit of a jerk sometimes. Our faithful reader James believes Shaq’s rudeness reveals itself because Shaq refuses to be fake, but being “real” isn’t an excuse for being a jackass. As my third-grade teacher once told me when I wrote “BOOBLESS” on my calculator (press 5-5-3-7-8-0-0-8, then turn it upside down) to describe my female classmates, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Not exactly a motto Shaq has lived by over the years.
Then I read that Delonte West called Shaq “an amazing person, someone I can’t even begin to describe,” and I re-read Rick Reilly’s feature on Shaq from 2000. Reilly gushed about O’Neal’s graciousness, thanked him for his generosity and lawfulness, and wrote this about O’Neal’s father: “It’s true: Good men raise good men.”
I just have to accept the fact that it’s not easy to describe Shaq’s character. And me? I’m not even going to try.