The concept of rivalry in professional sports is a significant cog in maintaining the sanctity of the multitude of games that we all cherish and indulge in. You’ve got Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants, Vikings-Packers, Ohio State-Michigan, UCLA-USC and of course, Lakers-Celtics.
To any die-hard sports fan, the notion of crossing the battle line to play for the enemy is no different than pulling a good old fashioned Benedict Arnold, a man whose name has become synonymous with betrayal.
From the rivalries listed above, a couple examples of Mr. Arnold are Johnny Damon leaving the comforts of Fenway for the bright lights of the Bronx, and Jeff Kent leaving the feud with Barry Bonds for the Giants’ most hated team, the Dodgers.
Most recently and perhaps most offensively, we’ve witnessed Brett Favre quarterback his way to the Packers’ arch nemesis, the Minnesota Vikings, with a slice of the Jets in between. That particular transition was such that to many Packer fans, donning a purple and yellow jersey was enough to erase him from the Lambeau history books, their minds, and most painfully, their hearts.
Now, the Lakers former greatest immovable force of all-time, Shaquille “(feel free to use any of his one million nicknames)” O’Neal, will begin the 2010-2011 NBA season as…wait for it…a…Boston Celtic.
Wait, come again? You mean we’re going to see real Shaq and (Big) Baby Shaq play together?!
Yes ladies and gentlemen, The Diesel is hoping to play The Black Mamba in the NBA Finals. Looks like the rivalry that was already gushing with an abundance of intrigue and embittered history just got juiced with anabolic whatever.
By joining the C’s, Shaq has voluntarily shifted the focus from when he should expect to get his jersey retired within the prestigious confines of The Elite Lakers Legends Club (as I like to call it) to if he will ever be awarded that honor at all.
Before we make any hasty and irrational decision based on our impulsive reaction to the news, I’d say that it’s only fair to at least perform our due diligence and review the years when number 34 was adored and beloved by the Laker faithful and yes, that includes you and me.