Memo to Shaq: Seriously, stop embarrassing yourself
The TMZ.com clip with Shaq freestyling (if labeling it as such even does the rap genre justice) a diss to Kobe is quickly gaining chatter among our readers, SportsCenter and the talk radio circuit. The language prevents me from linking directly to it, but if you want to find it, I trust you're all Internet savvy enough to figure out the navigation. Honestly, this is the kind of post topic I hate to even waste my time with, but I guess I'm somewhat obligated as a Lakers blogger to offer an opinion. So here it is.
Shaquille O'Neal is a jackass.
Mind you, I'm not saying this to "take Kobe's side". This isn't
even about "taking sides". If Shaq doesn't like Kobe, whatever, I couldn't care less, it's his right. I got more important things to worry about than The Diesel's Christmas card list. But if you're unwilling to let the past go (and honestly, were I Shaq, I don't know if I could forgive Kobe blabbing to the Colorado PD, either), at least be
straight up about it. Don't go telling ESPN that you're "happy for" and "proud of" Kobe's MVP season, then turn and blast him in such nakedly petty fashion. Are we really supposed to believe you're "proud" of a guy who, according to you, "ruined your marriage?" Really? You were swelling with pride three weeks ago, but have since decided to mock Kobe for coming up short in the Finals? Seems like something of a stretch (similar to your explanation that it was all "just in fun"). Perhaps you'd be better off simply stating that Bryant had a great season and leaving it with some degree of actual sincerity.
Here's another idea I'll run by Mr. Fu. Start talking less, period. For a guy on a rapid decline and now mostly relevant for weighing down (literally and figuratively) the Phoenix Suns after a horrendous trade, Shaq sure does seem willing to chat himself up like he's still balling in his prime. Instead of talking about the body part Kobe should be kissing or how you're better than Kareem, try talking with your trainer about how to get in shape and possibly make good on the promise that your time in the desert would equal a title. Or try talking about a topic that doesn't involve your ex-teammates. Seriously, is there anybody in the NBA more willing to throw dudes he used to play with under the bus? First Penny Hardaway. Then Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Most recently, Ricky Davis and that lightning bolt for controversy, Chris Quinn. Because clearly, your productivity, great health and ability to stay out of foul trouble during your last days in Miami merited a better caliber of teammate to chauffeur you along to a fifth title. Glad you took that rookie point guard most folks need to Google to know who the hell I'm referencing down a peg.
I'm still willing to buy O'Neal as a good teammate, as enough people have seemed to enjoy sharing roster space with him. But is there a worse EX-TEAMMATE in the league? If I'm Steve Nash or Amare Stoudemire, I've already marked my calender for a year and a half from now when Shaq's expiring contract gets moved to Charlotte and he starts calling them "selfish." It'll be a plum development for Gerald Wallace, however, who'll spend February-April of 2010 suddenly anointed as "the best small forward I ever played with." Like I said a few years back when Shaq pulled a shameless Staples cameo, Kobe may not be the easiest teammate in the world to play with, but behavior like this is something he just seems above. Kobe's most notorious public teammate trashing (this summer with Andrew Bynum) was inexcusable, but at least he presumably figured his thoughts were being shared with a couple random parking lot dudes in private. Shaq doesn't even seem interested in this kind of crap unless there's an audience on hand.
Honestly, it's somewhere between cringe-inducing and just plain sad to watch Shaq grow so obviously uncomfortable with not being the dominant force he was once was. To see that blatant need to remain in the spotlight, even when his play doesn't merit such props. He's turned into the basketball version of a dude undergoing a mid-life crisis. If he didn't already have a fleet's worth, I'd expect to see Shaq pacing around in a Porsche dealership trying to figure out if a red, black or silver exterior makes him look youngest. To say he's not handling this transition well would be an understatement. And every time he opens his mouth in such stupid fashion, he's only further tarnishing a HOF career in its twilight and risking being remembered as an immature and graceless jerk. It's not the way I'd wrap up a brilliant basketball life, but hey, the world isn't mine, so what do I know?
One last note: That violent force you felt underneath the ground was The Notorious B.I.G. rolling over in his grave after being dragged into this nonsense. At least reference Vanilla Ice or somebody less talented.