Here's one of those priceless posts that you stumble upon and thank the heavens for the existence of the internet. And thank FreeDarko not only for their fascinating writing, but for the amazing community of Ligophosers they have brought together.
For all the anger at the MSM and the ghettoized state of the blogosphere, mark my words. We're all gonna be nostalgic one day. Nostalgic for these days when the internet was young and wide-open, when suddenly (it seemed for the first time) that we could connect intellectually on a global scale, when the possibilities seemed endless.
The following was written as a comment in response to yesterday's Superman article at FreeDarko.
I'm an unabashed Shaq fan and I'm awfully scandalized and embarrassed with what I've seen from him the past 2 years.
I started seriously following the NBA in the 1995-1996 season when Orlando got swept by Houston in the finals. It was the year we got cable tv and I was able to follow the games over at ESPN.
Basketball has been big here in thee Philippines but for a long time only Jordan was the recognized player from the NBA. Like most, I was a Jordan fan but by the time of his first retirement I was looking for a player to call my own.
I started hearing other kids talk about Shaq and after I saw a few games I knew I had my guy. He was so good and so entertaining. And this was the year when Penny made Orlando very good and I really enjoyed how they beat Jordan and the Bulls on the way to the Magic's only finals appearance.
I followed him to LA and
even though they were good to watch, especially with Kobe's ascendancy,
they didn't win until Phil Jackson came to coach them.
I remember getting so annoyed when writers questioned his ability and performance, and in 2000, it seemed that he put all the doubts to rest.
HOWEVER, I really believe that his decline BEGAN DURING THE LAKERS' 1ST TITLE DEFENSE. He got waaay too big and looked nothing like Orlando Shaq. I remember some of his comments about how Miami Shaq would beat his previous incarnations due to veteran wisdom. I think he made these comments ALREADY WHEN HE WAS A LAKER. When they lost to Detroit in the 2003-2004 finals I remember Phil Jackson saying how the Lakers squandered one of Shaq's throwback performances. Even then his decline was obvious.
During their 2nd championship run, I noticed I was becoming more of a Lakers fan than a Shaq fan. And although I wouldn't admit it yet, I was becoming more of a Kobe fan.
When Shaq left for Miami, I was glad it was Kobe who stayed.
Perhaps it would be an indictment of the NBA's star-centeredness that my loyalty never was with the Bulls, or Orlando, and that my loyalty to LA is due to Kobe's remaining on the team, but then again I was never from these cities and I'm not even an American.
Still, when Shaq won his 4th title I was happy. But I noticed that I was more happy as an apologist for Shaq rather than for Miami. I actually begrudged (in hindsight) Wade's emergence because I was ashamed to admit that Shaq didn't carry the team at all. He was a role player already even then.
So I agree that Shaq should, if indeed he cares for his legacy as much as his ego allows himself to behave, to waive his contract and be content in delivering on his promise to Miami. Then he can say goodbye like Kareem and let me remember him as he was in 2000.