July 4, 2009 by David Gillaspie
Is there a better combination than Ben Stein and Shaq? They are both so vulnerable and sweet. What makes it special is Shaq still matters.
He could have gone to Miami and mailed it in. Instead he won a championship.
After his rehabilitation time in Phoenix he could have milked his career another three years and faded away. Instead he wants another championship where it matters. Shaq still works in service to the game that defines him.
By making a difference over the long haul Shaq joins others who did the same, guys who won’t leave the playing field until they can’t play anymore. Who are some others?
Muhammad Ali stayed too long in the ring? Probably, but he couldn’t stop climbing through the ropes. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee turned into assault and battery, but Ali couldn’t leave any other way.
Sugar Ray Leonard? That guy would keep fighting with three detached retinas at once.
What are the hopes of professional athletes near the end of their careers? What did Jason Taylor hope for? Fred Dryer already did Hunter.
Kareem was a movie star. Now he’s a basketball coach. Shaq has been in movies and he’s still a player.
Ron Artest is a rapper, or something. Shaq tested that water and he’s still a player.
However the future unfolds in Cleveland there’s no questions about Shaq. He brings to basketball what all the greats have brought to their sport. He has that balance of work and enthusiasm that bears witness.
We will never know what it feels like to push a seven foot three hundred twentyfive pound body into shape. Shaq does it so we don’t have to.
He makes us see possibilities in the impossible. He makes us ask, “What will LeBron do?”