Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Celebrating Shaq's Night (and Shaming Those Who Didn't)

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Tuesday was a great night to be a Lakers fan. Shaquille O'Neal's No. 34 was raised to the rafters and it felt like being at another Lakers parade where the Diesel wielded the mic to the loud applause of the faithful fans.

While most media/Lakers fans rightly celebrated the moment, some chose to still stir up dead embers of his feud with Kobe Bryant. Exhibit A: Bill Plaschke's commentary from last night. Instead of praise and fond memories of an era he covered, he nitpicks what didn't happen between the duo.

Now imagine me yesterday. All day I was thinking about how great it would be to see No. 34 go up to the rafters. Even when I called my girlfriend last night after leaving my youth group, she didn't answer because she was watching the ceremony. That's the kind of love L.A. had for the successful eight years of Shaq.

Plaschke missed the chance to focus on it. Nevermind that Kobe made a video praising Shaq and Shaq mentioned Kobe in his own video tribute. Since 2006, Shaq and Kobe have made peace. They may not be "buddy buddy buddy all up in your face" but they're far more respectful and comfortable than they were before.

From earlier this season, this was the game where Shaq was ejected by Will Ferrell. I bet you they laugh at how the media still wants to sell the drama (Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Media loves drama. Sportswriters love to stir things up for its own sake, not to be provocative. The sports blogosphere is full of writers who do this. All of it is a bane to my existence and a cheap pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Yet I know that peace doesn't make for good copy/web hits like drama and gossip. The media knows this and they knowingly/unknowingly feed into it with their own personal takes. Plaschke's article is mindboggling since the hatchet has been buried and decomposed for years and it took away from the joyous scene.

Plaschke could've called for fans to appreciate the Big Aristotle's time here. Appreciate Kobe making a video and the two being comfortable in doing it. Why be negative? What purpose does it serve? What message does that send your readers?

(I can ask those questions of so many colleagues/peers. It's okay to dissent from a love fest when appropriate but when you get snarky, you do realize you look like a jackass instead of provocative, right? Time and place, people.)

Photo Credit: Associated Press
With that said, I'd like to say thank you to Shaq, one of my favorite players, for creating many memories as a Laker during my junior high, high school and first two college years (1996-2004). I'm grateful that he and Kobe ended my high school years with three straight rings and proved to be one of the greatest duos in NBA history.

I'm grateful that in my senior year of college, he and Kobe ended their feud on Martin Luther King Day and shared an All-Star Game MVP three years later. I'm grateful that I've ignored the many who refused to grow up and appreciate how Kobe and Shaq have matured as men and can fondly appreciate what they did together, instead of focus on how it fell apart.

It's a shame some folks love selling the drama and looking for fires to start instead of report what is seen and do research on what has been done. It's lazy writing and does a disservice to the readers, who should be hearing about a love fest for one of the greatest big men/Lakers to ever play.

I'm proud that Shaq was once again embraced by the Laker family because we should remember him for dominance and great moments. His jersey deserves to be the first raised from the Staples Center era and after seeing Kobe post a triple-double as the Lakers won, it was a glorious night on Figueroa.

Seeing only the drama is shortsighted and we deserve far more than seeing one, negative side of a wonderful story.


  1. Couldn't agree more. Shaq and Kobe will forever be linked. Great ceremony for the Diesel.

    1. They definitely will be and it's something we should be appreciative of instead of digging up the negative. I enjoyed last night all the way!