June 05, 2005

Who is the real Shaquille?:

posted by justgary to basketball at 05:32 PM - 8 comments


posted by Footballgouy51 at 07:53 PM on June 05, 2005

Yeah, that was kind of my reaction- the writer was all over the place. Praising Shaq, condemning him, praising him again... I think on the whole, he was saying that Shaq's endearing personality and good interviewing style has led the media, and by extension the fans, to overlook that may not be quite the physically dominating athlete we are led to believe, that he's never in his career truly lived up to the hype. And yet, SJ is also suggesting in the same breath that he would be as dominating if he weren't nearly disabled on the court right now, that saying he's at '80%' is misleading since he's maybe 40%. Whatever the percentage, he's certainly not the 36/22 Shaq that Bill Simmons said would be necessary to win this round of the playoffs- which may prove true, or overly alarmist, by late Monday night. But to counter that knock SJ seems to be stressing that, far more than we give him credit for, he is a positive influence in his teammates- more than just making them better on the court by setting picks, assists, etc- but by making them better players in a way that lasts, in their heads and hearts. My own take: Shaq is a hard person to peg in terms of impact. His raw numbers have been always great, excepting a down season here or there (where the numbers were still terrific, just not Diesel terrific)- but maybe we should have expected even more from a guy who was as oversized a presence as Chamberlain was in his time. This was no Shawn Bradley, this was Shaq- why didn't he put in 35 a night, pull down 20 boards? But the game has changed since then... how do you really measure the intangible impact a guy like Shaq, a guy who commands such attention and is such a presence in the paint, that him simply being on the court has a significance in the game? Aside: as an avowed hardball fanatic, I dismiss icily any claims to "intangibles" when it comes to the baseball diamond, e.g. good ol' "Captain Intangibles" on the NYY. However, baseball is a sport where every action is so granular, so isolated, that every individual action can be counted, analyzed, and reduced to some expression of true personal impact. No matter how well one hitter swings the bat, the other hitters don't really benefit, except marginally via situational counts. Basketball, and similarly other sports like football, soccer, and hockey, is a sport where the impact a player has can directly impact the other players; for example, the better one player is on defense, the more scoring his teammates might get at the other end. So for Shaq, it's more than what he does himself- his being 10 feet from the basket makes other players far more open than they should be, makes other teams build their game plans around him. And certainly, you look at Kobe now, and Wade now, and realize, hm, maybe Scoop Jackson should be writing this sort of article about Kobe, that maybe KB was never quite as talented as we were led to believe, either. Kobe was a whiz-kid with the Dr. J moves, but I can see that showmanship on any episode of Street Ball. Left without the big man for the first time, Kobe couldn't even make the playoffs. Meanwhile, not to detract from Wade, but it has to be more than a coincidence that Wade went from very promising rookie to bona fide superstud with the presence of Shaq. What's it all add up to? Well, I haven't a goddamned clue. All we can say is that Shaq remains one of the most entertaining and captivating figures to watch in sports. And who knows? Maybe we'll see "Coach Shaq" some years from now. :)

posted by hincandenza at 01:46 AM on June 06, 2005

The ambiguity in the piece is entirely accurate, to my mind. He's both better and worse than his legacy and his reputation. His body is failing him, but his influence continues, especially as he learns how to teach. I don't know yet about him. It seems odd to say, but even in the twilight of his career, I still don't know what to think of his impact on the game. It may be a decade after he retires before we can really assess whether he was the greatest baller ever or just the game's greatest enigma.

posted by chicobangs at 11:58 AM on June 06, 2005

thats a weird article to write.What is his focal point?

posted by HOE.O.K. at 12:00 PM on June 06, 2005

we can really assess whether he was the greatest baller ever .Shaq is not a baller.He is though an enigma.His presence is his main skill.Time has caught up,and even if the Heat go to the finals,it seems to be his last run with a legacy that will be left to debate over for the next several decades.Spurs in 6.over Heat or Pistons.

posted by HOE.O.K. at 12:06 PM on June 06, 2005

Sorry Shaq,every thing comes to an end.Good luck with the cop thing.

posted by HOE.O.K. at 12:08 PM on June 06, 2005

Shaquille O'Neal is overrated? No shit. Wake me when there's real news.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:17 PM on June 06, 2005

Shaq's not overrated. Players and coaches are constantly saying that he's the most dominant force in the game.

posted by mayerkyl at 07:04 AM on June 07, 2005

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