The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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Dr O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal talks to the NYT about LeBron’s Decision, and where he’ll be taking his talents once he retires:

Are you concerned about the declining fortunes of Cleveland now that you and LeBron James have left?
We would have liked to have given them a better ending.

Have you spoken to LeBron since he signed with the Miami Heat?
No, no.

Did you watch along with the rest of the world when he monopolized ESPN for a night to announce where he was going?

No, I didn’t. One, I was with the kids, and two, I didn’t know it was going to be on TV.

I didn’t watch it, either.
That’s because you’re mature and you’re my age and we have a different mind-set.

Age has given O’Neal perspective.

Do you find it difficult to be an aging athlete?
A little bit. We live in an impatient world. Everybody is always looking for the next big Kobe, the next big LeBron, the next big Twitter.

And did you know that besides Twittering, hosting TV shows, raising his kids, visiting his dad, and hooping it up, Shaq is writing his dissertation?

Do you think you’ll ever be a sports announcer, like Charles Barkley?

Hopefully not. When I’m done playing basketball, I want do something bigger. I’m working on my doctorate right now at Barry University in Florida.

What are you writing your dissertation on?
My topic will be “How Leaders Utilize Humor or Aggression in Leadership Styles.”

You’ve been called the Big Aristotle, among other nicknames.
I’m done with the nicknames. Actually, when I obtain my doctorate, I will not allow people to call me Shaq anymore, either.

What will they call you?
Dr. O’Neal.

It might seem like I’m making fun of Shaq, but I’m really not. (I do think he’s funny.) I like and respect him a lot, all the more so for pursuing whatever he’s been interested in.

In my Kottke post this week on how athletes are different from you or me, I included a quote by Bill Simmons about how Michael Jordan really bordered on sociopathic behavior during the years he contended for a championship. I didn’t mention that the quote is actually from Simmons’s section on Shaquille O’Neal.

Simmons’s point was that Shaq never became quite as great as Jordan, despite having comparable talent, in part because he was a more-well-rounded person; his drive to succeed wasn’t so singularly focused on beating people on the court, except really during his four championship seasons.

This is also one reason Barkley, who was friends with Jordan and battled with him and probably came closest to beating him during his championship years (’93, with the Suns), could never quite get there, and got bogged down with controversies and politics during his career — and yet he’s a better announcer than Jordan ever could be. Definitely a better interview. Probably a better friend. He always had other things on his mind.


Alan Jacobs says…

Totally ungermane to this post, but I saw Barkley play in high school and am unlikely to forget it. He was freakish: nothing that big should have been able to move that fast (he was well over 300 pounds at the time). During Barkley’s freshman year at Auburn, Curry Kirkpatrick wrote a piece for SI in which he said that Barkley on the court resembled nothing so much as “Porky Pig gone berserk on a trampoline,” and that pretty much sums it up.

Tim Carmody says…

Barkley could have been great in almost any sport. Except for his freakishly long arms, his body-type was actually singularly unsuited for basketball. He would have been a terrific linebacker.

Belatedly: imagine Barley staying at 300 pounds plus but with a good weightlifting program, and, with the leverage of those long arms and that quickness, playing nose tackle. I can’t imagine a more disruptive force.

Tim Carmody says…

Okay, take all that, and keep new Madden Barkley in the middle, but instead of a 3-4, stand him up and run a 4-3, and now you’ve got a 6’4″, 300lb Mike Singletary. Imagine that barking at you all day.

(They listed Barkley at 6’6″, but really, that guy might be 6’2″. Likewise, Singletary got rounded up to 6′, when that man would be 5’10,” tops, in the Army.)

Tim Carmody says…

Also, if you can get around the gratuitous porn references scattered throughout the book, check out Bill Simmons’s takes on Barkley in his section, Moses Malone’s, and Barkley’s 1990 should-have-been-MVP year (I think it was ’90). He and Moses played together during the 1980s, were both at least three inches too short to play their positions, and yet snagged virtually every offensive rebound possible due to the sheer power of their collective butts.

I think I love Shaq for the same reason I love Shah Rukh–I just feel, deep in my bones, that they are good guys. It’s so rare to get that feeling from anyone famous, or to even have confidence that ‘good guys’ can come out anywhere close to on top, that I give them a special loyalty.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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