View Full Version : Classic? Jenni Carlson

1/5/2006, 01:48 PM
Jenni Carlson's article on Shaq is full of the brief paragraphs that bring a giggle:

By Jenni Carlson
The Oklahoman

Lining up for free throws, Chris Paul took his spot, prepared to rebound, then realized who was standing next to him.

Probably because all the light had been blocked out.

Call it the Shaquille O’Neal Effect.

“Lemme get over here,” said Paul, scotching to his right, moving as far away from Shaq as possible. “I ain’t messin’ with him.”

It’s impossible to appreciate just how colossal the big guy is. I mean, there’s a total eclipse of the sun and then, there’s Shaq.

The Miami center is huge in every way. His body. His game. His presence. His stardom.

Until Wednesday night when the Heat rolled into town, Oklahoma City had never seen anything like him. And our fair city got the best show possible - a Shaq show and a Hornets victory.

That’s right. The Hornets won, and it wasn’t even close.

Hornets 107, Heat 92.

Talk about grand fun. Just getting a chance to see Shaq would’ve made for a nice Wednesday evening, but the Hornets beat Shaq and Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton and Antoine Walker. They beat the Heat.

Go figure.

“He’s huge, huge, huge,” Hornets guard David West said of Shaq. “You can’t really stop him”

His voice rose, making the mere idea sound ridiculous.

“You’re not going to stop Shaq,” West said. “You’ve got to make it difficult, be pesky, be like a little mosquito on him”

Even these NBA players marvel at this guy. No wonder the rest of us are down right awestruck by him.

Before the game Wednesday, folks flocked around the tunnel where the Heat came onto the floor. About 3.2 seconds after the doors of the Ford Center opened, fans flooded that corner of the arena.

People were actually panting.


That’s how much they wanted to get close to Shaq. And watching fans come down the steps and realize they hadn’t been quick enough to get a spot at the front, you’d have thought they’d just missed the blue-light special at Kmart.

The appeal is simple: Shaq is supersized.

Look at your arm. See how far it is from fingertip to elbow bend? That’s how big Shaq’s shoe is. Size 23. Every other player on the court Wednesday night could fit his shoe inside the Big Diesel’s.

It’s amazing the guy can get out of bed, much less get those feet moving up and down the court.

“He’s the biggest,” Hornets guard Kirk Snyder marveled. “You go into the game knowing you’re not going to go to the basket as often as you would like. You know he’s coming, and it’s going to hurt.”

Snyder found out for himself. We’ll let him tell the third-quarter tale.

“He was running out, and obviously, I know he can’t stop,” Snyder said. “So I tried taking the baseline, and he derailed me.”

Snyder smiled.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the layup. I missed the layup, but I was thinking about whether my shoulder was back on the baseline. He hit my shoulder pretty hard.”

So hard that Snyder spent about the next three possessions checking to see if it was still attached to his body.

Snyder wasn’t the only one to, um, feel Shaq’s presence. The big guy set a screen during the first half, and Speedy Claxton still has the imprint from the stitching on Shaq’s jersey on his forehead. Then there was Paul driving in, smacking into Shaq, getting up and signaling that he had no intent to do that again.

For all the different ways Shaq impacted the game, though, he didn’t leave the ultimate mark. The starless Hornets found a way to neutralize him, mixing up their defenses, throwing a healthy dose of zone at him.

“Coach wanted to kind of mix it up on him,” West said of Hornets coach Byron Scott. “He didn’t want to give him free rein to punish us down low.”

Snyder said, “We know they have other players that could beat us, but we were willing to take that chance.”

Shaq scored 19 points, but the Hornets scored the victory. They affected him so much that he wasn’t even his normal philosophical self after the game.

“We’ve just got to go out and play our game,” Shaq said. “We didn’t do that.”

Maybe he isn’t so big after all.

Jenni Carlson: 475-4125, [email protected]

People were actually panting. Panting.

Give me a break!