Saturday, June 4, 2011
Top 10 Random Acts of Shaqness I'll Never Forget
Shaq scoring 61 points on his birthday in 2000 - Watching this game live, I knew Shaq was mad that the Clippers wouldn't honor his requests for more tickets on his 28th birthday. This game symbolized just how dominant he was that year. He added 23 rebounds and it's still one of the best scoring efforts I've witnessed.
The alley-oop - The 4th quarter rally happened while I was at Evening Service at my church. I got home thinking the game was over only to watch this play over and over and over again. I can still hear Bob Costas make the call and I can see Staples Center and the Lakers bench erupting as one as Kobe shook Scottie Pippen and threw up for the big man to get it. It ranks up there with beating Boston in Game 7 as my favorite Lakers playoff moment.
The near quad-double in Game 2 of 01 Finals - Game 1 was all about Allen Iverson's one man show with 48 points. Game 2 was about reasserting dominance and Shaq, who had 44 and 20 in Game 1, let everyone know who was the true unguardable force was. 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists, 8 blocks. For people who said Shaq was all brute force, this was a reminder of how underrated his passing was.
Coast 2 Coast versus Miami - One of my favorite plays. Rookie Shaq grabbing the rebound, dribbling the length of the floor and slamming it home like a runaway train. Miami's players scattering like children makes it even better. Young Shaq was a beast. An absolutely terrifying combo of speed, agility and power.
Destroying David Robinson in the 96 ASG - Let's set the scene. Game's nearly over. All-Star Game is in San Antonio, hometown team of David Robinson and the city where Shaq became a HS sensation. Shaq's long felt that the Admiral snubbed him and never had any love for him. Worlds collided in 1996 and at the end, Robinson got humiliated by the Shaq Attack. And that might be putting it lightly.
Destroying Chris Dudley - My personal standard for embarrassing somebody: Dunk on them and leave them on the floor in a crumpled heap. Scottie Pippen did it to Ewing. Shaq did it to Chris Dudley with a two-hand flush and then shoving him into the photographers. I remember going nuts at the dinner table and then laughing at Dudley, one of the worst FT shooters in history, somehow aiming a perfect pass into Shaq's back in retaliation.
Tearing down the backboards twice - I don't know what's better. Shaq saying this was payback for Derrick Coleman or big stuff Dwayne Schnitzus catching the worst of this. Either way, this is Chocolate Thunder x 10!!!! As for the Phoenix dunk, even the backboard knew to cower in front of Shaq's power
His Game-winner against Utah in 1997 - I couldn't find video of this but I picked this because I can't recall any game-winners in Shaq's career. True he hit the and-1 to sent Game 7 vs Sacramento to overtime but an actual game winner? I'll set this up, Shaq got a pass down low against Greg Ostertag. Then he did a simple turn-around junper to send the Forum into a frenzy. Probably one of the first times Mom realized I was a super passionate basketball fan cause I went crazy at dinner.
The 2001 parade: I watched the Lakers clinch the 2001 title at Universal Studios with hundreds of fans. Soon after, he had a hit single on Power 106, "Connected", that was the unofficial theme song of the summer. But nothing was better than hearing those four words at the parade. Caaaaaaaan Youuuuuuuuuu Dig It!!!!!! Every Laker was on the stage celebrating during his rap and of course, it gave us the epic Mark Madsen dance. Just a reminder of the fun and energy Shaq brought to the city.
Deading the beef on MLK/Sharing the ASG MVP in 2009: Let's face it, the Shaq-Kobe beef may have been part of the story and entertaining but all power struggles leave mostly regret despite the high times. I was tired of folks bringing it up after Shaq left and unlike a rivalry, it was turning into a Cold War you wanted to see end so we could enjoy what they had.
My senior year on Martin Luther King Day, Shaq and Kobe fittingly ended the feud. Bill Russell advised Shaq to do it and it was a beautiul moment. Fresh off Jay-Z and Nas ending their beef that winter, it was good for people to see grown men do the right thing. It was maturity. And then 3 years later, in Shaq's last All-Star Game, it was fitting they both shared the MVP. A partnership taking their victory lap one last time for the fans.
Honorable Mention: Fighting Charles Barkley, getting his degree from LSU and calling it Love Shaq University, his dance-off with LeBron and Dwight Howard.