Getting lost in random YouTube videos has become the new “Sunday walk in the park.” What this says about society, I’m not really sure, but I’ll tell you one thing walks in the park fail to provide: awesome highlight reels of Shaquille O’Neal while he was at LSU. Three reasons stand as why these words are being typed.
1. The undergrad days of Shaq’s career are often not discussed because of what he’d go on to accomplish afterwards. There was his rap career. And Kazaam. There was the budding tandem in Orlando with Penny Hardaway that was over about as quickly as it started. Then, there his friendship with Biggie Smalls, which could have had even more horrific results the early morning of March 9, 1997, had he never overslept.
Then the years of 1999-2003 happened when he was single-handedly the most destructive force in sports. In those same years, he and Kobe nearly killed each other for reasons that are as numerous as they are maddening. But they won three titles together and, in the process, created arguably the greatest power struggle ever. Seriously, at this point, I’m not sure what was better for the respective sport: Shaq vs. Kobe or Jay-Z vs. Nas. All four parties are forever linked to the other and, in essence, brought the best out of the other co-Alpha male. Anywho, from there, the Miami Heat and his last grasp of dominance with a young Dwyane Wade happened. And from there, Shaq The Personality vastly overshadowed Shaq The Player, which punched his career stats in the gut. So yeah, his college career falls low on the totem pole.
2. Believe it or not – and this has nothing to do with the aforementioned video – Shaq has improved as an analyst on TNT. I went from “Hell yeah, Shaq on TNT with the crew? He’s gonna fit right in.” to “WTF was I thinking? This is horrible. Get him outta here please!” to “Stop cutting off Ernie, Shaq! Shit!” to “Well, hold on, this isn’t that bad anymore.” We turned the corner for Shaq’s TV career last week when he kept joking on Charles Barkley about allegedly getting his eyebrows done. He had me at “hello.”
3. I know Christian Laettner was the face of college basketball in 1992. He was the Model T for what would become Tim Tebow nearly 20 years later. He went to Duke. He had “the shot.” He won national championships. He denied “The Fab Five” a championship. I get it. But ponder on this for a moment seeing as how we’re afforded the gift of hindsight. Imagine if Shaq was given the spot on what became “The Dream Team.” Even in 1992, it was evident that O’Neal was a once-in-a-generation big man capable of coming right in and putting up 20 and 10 a night while inflicting a serious amount of punishment on whoever was hanging on for dear life on defense. Imagine if this guy was the trailer on a fast break with Michael Jordan. He may have literally broke an Angolan in half.
Nevertheless, kill two minutes of your work day by watching Shaq dunk, block, taunt and stand over a wounded/petrified Grant Hill. It’s Monday. It’s not like there’s anything else to do anyway.