I just can’t help but like Shaq. I tried so hard to hate him for so many years, but that damn smile and sunny disposition finally wore me down. He’s funny, he seems like a genuinely kool guy, and he seems to get it. He showed further evidence of his class and intelligence when speaking about gay former NBA player John Amaechi. (which to me is a hell of a lot more interesting than the Anna Nicole Smith debacle.)
”If he was on my team, I guess I would have to protect him from the outsiders,” O’Neal said in Boston on Wednesday night. ”I’m not homophobic or anything…. I’m not the type who judges people. I wish him well.”
It has taken working with kids to realize how powerful Shaq’s words are. Hardaway is a washup and a has been, while Shaq is still as superstar. And while his words will not get as much attention, they carry a heck of a lot more weight when I try to teach tolerance to the kids on my team. Another reason I like Shaq is that even though he certainly didn’t need it, he went back to school and graduated college a couple of years ago, again setting a positive example. Now, he’s not perfect (he’s had children by three different women, though the last one is his wife), but none of us are. Perhaps he decided to go back to school after he gave us one of my favorite quotes of all time: “My game is like the Pythagorean theorem; no-one can figure it out.”
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