The Deisel. The Big Aristotle. Kazaam. Shaq Fu. Neon Bodeaux. The Man of Steel. The Big Shaqtus.
One man, many names, bigger than life. He is simply "Shaq." And aside from my man-crushes on The Captain and The One Singletary, Shaquille O'Neal may be my favorite athlete on the planet. While I'm stuck watching the A-Face lie about steroids when I should be watching A.J. and CC report to camp (pretty sure I got those initials right with the periods), it was surprisingly nice to watch Shaq during All Star weekend. Shaq has grown old in basketball years, and I have grown up with his career. As happens so often in life, perhaps the more I've grown accustomed to Shaq always being there, always saying something provocative or dominating some poor, helpless opposing center, the more I've taken Shaq for granted.
I remember turning 10 and taking Nana's birthday cash to the local baseball card shop - what ever happened to Jack from Lori & Me? - and buying a Fleer Shaq Rookie. I was pissed because I had bought the Upper Deck set and he wasn't in there. Any card collectors know why? Anyway, if you were a kid like me growing up at any point in the 90s, you loved Shaq, too - and you know it. I loved the that he was incredibly athletic for a guy his size, but because of how huge and strong he was, his highlights always had a jarring quality. He was raw power on the court, and his game was to go around, over, or straight through his opponents until their will to defend was simply demoralized. I also loved the life-sized Shaq cutout at the shoe store, which displayed his massive Reeboks.
The purpose of this post, though, is not merely a trip down NBA Memory Lane. While I may be guilty of Deisel deification, and the prime of his career has obviously passed him by (16 seasons will do that to you I guess), you still gotta love Big Shaq. He's a gregarious, quotatious character, a champion on the court who understands his role off of it. Watching Shaq dance around (see below), pull off playground tricks, and even share the MVP with Kobe in possibly his last All Star game just made me feel good. You wanna fight about it? The Shaq dominates in so many ways. He clowns around. He raps (badly). He acts (worse). He dances. He dominates. He pontificates. He has fun. He studies. He gives. Mostly, HE GETS IT. (Doesn't get it).
Shaq can do no wrong, and it is for this reason and this reason only that I'm announcing my allegiance to the Big Tweet alongside his legion of followers. Just as Steve Nash was convinced by the Deisel, I'm announcing that I am now one of Shaq's twitterputians, and would love for you all to follow me at THE_REAL_SCHIFF. I'm still only a little bit clear on why and how Twitter exists, and I dont know what will happen out in twitterland, but if I can keep it half as real as the Shaq Daddy, then I'll consider it a job well done. Given I could fit into half of his size 23s, I think this is a reasonable goal.
So thank you, Shaqille Rashaun O'Neal. I assume you read every single one of your 104,07 followers' updates, so I hope you appreciate this homage. And now, with no particular theme or reason, please to let you enjoy some of my favorite Shaq videos:
"Vlade are you stupid? I'll tell you time again..."
Alright, so Shaq definitely likes to talk smack, but wouldn't you? Plus, he has the ringtone downloaded on his phone for the sole purpose of dissing Vlade Divac.
"Kobe, tell me how my ass taste"
Speaking of smack talk.... Shaq sort of disses my all-time favorite Knick in this one (it's cool, Patrick, your nostrils still dominate Shaq's), but had I been there, I probably would have been the loudest idiot shouting along, "Kobe, tell me how my ass taste." Clearly I made up for not being there by singing that line to people all summer long. And how about the lyrical gem, "I love em, I don't leave em. I got a vasectomy, now I can't breed em?"
"What do you know? Shaqtus"
Scrabble is one of my favorite games and this one gets me no matter how many times I see it. I will say that line whether it's an appropriate reference or not, just because it cracks me up (Shaq has been in a bunch of the ESPN NBA RV commercials, and they are all funny in their own right, but this one is tops for me. For a full compilation, peep this).
You can debate whether or not the NBA was going over the top to shill for Gatorade by including the Jabbawockeez - or if you're Craig Sager, the "Wokka Jobbeez" - in the All-Star introductions (although I happen to like the Gatorade "Quest For G" comercials, being a Monty Python fan and citing the aforementioned Jetesy man-crush, so I'm all cool with it). What you can't debate is the power and glory of a 7-foot, 325-pound man ripping off his warmup pants and doing the robot while wearing a mask that barely covers half of his face. Even after 16 seasons, Shaq can still bring the unexpected. And for a guy that size, he really can move.