Trouble Brewing In Retired Center Land

I got a whiff of some trouble when I read Kareem’s tweet a few minutes ago:

Kareem then linked over to his FB page where he wrote a full reply to Shaq’s comments:

Link here.

Problem is though, I can’t find the freaking comments Shaq supposedly made even after checking Shaq’s FB page where he’s being his usual buoyant, goofy self, and googling for ‘Shaquille Kareem comments’.

I found out what Kareem was replying to, and it’s here http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2011/11/shaquille-oneal-wishes-kareem-abdul-jabbar-mentored-him-more.html. In it, Shaq says:

“He’d (Kareem) say hello, but I was looking for, “Hey, do this” or “Watch out for that,'” O’Neal said. “He knew everyone was comparing me to him. He knew better than anyone what I was up against, but he gave me nothing.”

Now, I’ve always been in awe of both, especially Kareem and his indescribably fine, unstoppable SkyHook. To me, that is the ultimate most unstoppable thing in basketball, and yes, even compared to Shaq’s dunking. No doubt, Shaq in his prime devastated anyone getting in his way. Watching the young Shaquille in Orlando and LA was akin to watching Monster Trucks or demolition derbies. In your head you’d imagine an overpowering force just plowing through something, like a battering ram against a wall or a wrecking ball against a building. The basketball equivalent would be Shaquille O’Neal, gliding down the lane, receiving the ball from a guard and just hammering it through even with 2, 3 maybe 4 guys around him. It was awesome beyond belief.

But.. it was stoppable, merely by fouling him way ahead of him receiving the ball. He then would have to go through the freethrow line, and we all know what happens (CLUNK!) then.

And so if you ask me, with the game on the line and made to choose between Kareem’s Skyhook and Shaq’s Jams, I would choose KAJ33 everyday, twice on Sundays and thrice on Holidays. The Shaq Attack was one – dimensional, while Kareem’s was absolutely reliable for years on end. For many years until he finally retired, Pat Riley would play him as a closer, saving him until the final minutes where he would just score at will on a hookshot in front of a hapless center, usually mouth agape and helpless.

However on a personal basis, there is clearly no one friendlier and more approachable than the Diesel, while Kareem’s aloof and curt personality has become just as legendary as his play. Magic Johnson even had a short story how, when they were young, he lambasted Kareem for snubbing a boy who was asking for his autograph (he substituted himself instead), pointing out that many years later, that boy’s father eventually turned out to be someone he did business with later on.

So what do I make of this?

It’s clear this is all just a misunderstanding. Shaq at the time was young, and all young players, especially thrust under the spotlight of the NBA would have their insecure moments, and feel as if the seniors were against them in some way. Kareem was probably being his curt, self – absorbed self, shutting out everyone and not paying attention. If he seems like the type who wouldn’t help out, he clearly would look and act the part. But not necessarily not want to, as he eventually helped a young Bynum improve his game later on.

On the other hand, Kareem was right in saying as well that if Shaq had wanted help, he should’ve certainly just asked for it. Even Kobe asked advice from Hakeem once, regardless of how implausible it was that a center could help a forward / guard, and that Kobe had already achieved far more Championship rings than he ever did. Advice is available to whomever looks for it.

I figure they just need to give each other a call. I hope Kareem makes the call first, really, because I’m tired of reading negative stuff about him. He is after all, the greatest player ever, with all due to Jordan and all. At the very end, he is the epitome of the great basketball player. Big, dominating, standing tall and high on the merits of great skill and therefore unstoppable, with a list of achievements equal to or at par with any in the world. The only reason he doesn’t get as recognized as much as he should is that he acts like an asshole.

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