Back when I was a little kid on the mean streets of Austin (Yep, I lived there for two years during my youth) in the mid-`70's, me and a few of my fellow second-graders would play Star Wars during recess. We would pretend the jungle gym was the Millenium Falcon, the area behind the rocks was Tatooine, and that our teacher Mrs. Pearson, unbeknownst to her, was
Darth Vader (however if she did know, I'm pretty sure she was capable of executing the "point at us and make us choke" manuever like Vader. She was a meanie.)
Of course, we would all play our certain characters and the script never changed; I was fortunate enough to be Han Solo, which was cool enough in 1976 and would have been even cooler if we were re-enacting Return of the Jedi and it was eight years later and I got to make out with Princess Leia. There would inevitably be fights over who got to play what characters, your typical second grade bullshit from kids who were tired of having to be "Dumbass Stormtrooper #3" and wanted their crack at being Solo or Skywalker.
Well, inevitably, we all turned eight and outgrew things like "fighting over who played what character" and "why exactly does the Wookiee always win?"
I lay out the previous three paragraphs to help show the utter absurdity and juvenile nature of the "war of words" this past weekend between Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, which is
the NBA equivalent of second-graders on the playground. In case you missed it, last week after Shaq's Cleveland Cavaliers knocked off Howard's Orlando Magic, O'Neal took offense to being compared to Dwight Howard. No, not "being compared" as in discussing both big men's thunderous dunks or brick masonry from the free throw line. O'Neal took offense to Howard calling himself "Superman."
You see, back in the day, when Shaq was about two hundred pounds lighter, he would frequently flash his Superman "S" tattoo and talk about how he was the true "man of steel." Then along came Howard (and, to be fair, along came Krispy Kreme as well) and the "Superman" title was usurped from Shaq, complete with Howard actually dressing up in the Superman cape for the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star weekend a couple years ago and flying through the air fasting than a speeding bullet (insert Gilbert Arenas joke here).
Well, apparently, Shaq has been carrying this pent-up anger around with him for some time, appalled at the nerve of Howard ripping the "S" from Shaq's very own varsity sweater and affixing it to his own chest. After the game last week against the Magic, Shaq said he was "offended" by comparisons to Howard and asked "who the real Superman is."
At that point, Howard should have just ripped off his shirt and said "Yeah, who is the real Superman, bitch?!?", because right about now Shaq is a white sweat suit away from replacing the fat, bald enforcer in the "drug deal gone bad" scene in Boogie Nights. Pretty much since he watched Dwyane Wade carry the Heat to a title in 2006, Shaq has been "Shaquille O'Neal's Expiring Contract" -- a big, overpaid stiff who has been ten times more talk than action.
Instead, proving that Superman may actually be dead, Howard kowtowed to O'Neal saying that he didn't want to get into a "battle of nicknames" and that if Shaq wants to be Superman than "he can be Superman." That's it? C'mon boys....if you're gonna get into a second-grade war over who gets to keep a fictitious superhero's nickname, at least decide it in an appropriate fashion. Throw a dodgeball at the other guy's face, or make him sit at the girl's table in the cafeteria. Something. Anything!
Don't take us all the way on this ride, and then let the other guy win, especially when the other guy looks more like Abdullah the Butcher than he does Son of Jor-El. You suck, Howard!!
Thankfully, the actual NBA games start back up tonight so we can resume discussions of actual on-court happenings, and the trade deadline coming up Thursday will give us a few more chances to call Daryl Morey a genius, even if it appears Tracy McGrady's Expiring Contract is about to turn into Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and the hope that the 2012 Knicks are lottery bound.
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Whatever. I'm cool with that. In Daryl we trust.
As for these juvenile "nickname" wars, wake me up when (a) they center around real-life issues and (b) when the participants are willing to eye-gouge and fish-hook to retain the nickname. In other words, wake me up when Travis Henry and Shawn Kemp are ready to duke it out over who gets to keep the nickname "The Sperminator."
Until then, I gotta go surf me some Jordan Hill clips on Youtube. Morey must see SOMETHING in that young fella.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 weekdays on the Sean &
John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.