I know many in the Lakers Nation will read the headline and instantly think I am a moron. Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most dominant ever—a man who was the cornerstone of one of the most indomitable dynasties in NBA history—shouldn’t have his number retired by the organization he brought 3 consecutive titles to? What drugs must I be on? I assure you—I am not saying this to be contrarian. This is something I believe very deeply in.
And let me clarify—the Kobe-Shaq Lakers hold a special place in my heart. I was in middle school back then, and my mom, who is a huge Lakers/Shaq fan, indoctrinated me into Lakers fandom. My mom was a huge Shaq fan, and me, the middle school video game player, backed the young phenom with the greatest afro of his generation. The “HORRY… FOR THE WIN” game vs. the Sacramento Kings is my favorite sports moment of my life to date: and it played out in my living room with my mother.
Now, clearly, you don’t care about my sentimentality here as much as I do, (and I’m not arrogant enough to be hurt by that), but the point I’m stressing here is: Shaq provided me with just as much enjoyment as any other Lakers fan. He was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most physically dominating athletes I’ve ever seen in my life. However, you can throw stats at me, point to the banners hanging in the rafters of Staples Center, show me the Youtube videos, and you still won’t budge me: Shaq should not have his number retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sports are great because it allows you to feel every emotion under the sun. It’s a safe place to vent emotions you can’t vent in “real life,” so to speak.
Next: Hate is a Strong Word