A Sad Day For Shaq-Kobe Watchers

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - January 25, 2006
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You suppose it had to happen.

Things this good just can’t last forever. Two superstars on opposite coasts in a blood feud that made the Hatfields and the McCoys, and even Tom and Roseanne, seem like mere playground arguments. It had it all. One big and powerful, the other smaller and explosive. It could have been Biggie and Tupac if not for the fact that Shaq and Kobe can’t rap.

Though the NBA likes everything to appear nice and cozy; players and executives marching lock step to the beat of the league drum, David Stern and the boys were loving the ruckus between the two.


Why?

Because it was great for ratings and there was no real threat of punches being thrown. Not that the temptation was never there. Let us recall the time Kobe wanted to call out Shaq to settle their differences. Confidence and ego are fine, but that was just plain stupid.

But now it’s all over.

Thanks to Bill Russell, we say goodbye to an era. One that was not just exciting but showed itself in the beauty of sports-manship and the effectiveness of dialog. Who can forget the playful banter?

He’s fat and he pays women to keep them quiet - Kobe

I’m not the one buying love - Shaq

Stay away from my wife! - Kobe.

(Oops. That was between Kobe and Karl Malone. Those crazy kids.)

Now on to a bit of seasonal merriment.

T’was the days before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for the NBA publicity machine pumping up what would normally be a meaningless game into must-see TV. Shaq vs. Kobe III. What will happen? Ignored presence? Stink eye? Nasty words? Maybe an elbow to Kobe’s chest courtesy of the Big Aristotle? Tune in to find out! Only on ABC!

So much was made of this stinker that San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich called the NBA finals rematch between his Spurs and the Detroit Pistons the day’s JV game. The battle of the two best teams in the league - and most likely opponents for the 2006 finals - was nice enough, but lacked the zing, the pow, the zoink of a good old perceived slobber knocker. Even if it was complete fiction.

How can Ben Wallace and Tim Duncan compete with that?


They can’t.

So what’s the league to do? The Pistons/Pacers thing was hot for a bit, but now that Ron Artest is persona non grata in Indy, it’s almost cordial. Nothing to sell there.

Boston stinks. The Knicks are even worse. The Lakers are teetering at .500 while being overtaken over by the Clippers. You know things are bad when the most shocking thing to happen in months is Antonio Davis calmly going into the stands after feeling his wife may have been in some type of peril.

Bo-ring.

Maybe the league can send Charles Barkley and Bill Walton on a “State of the NBA” speaking tour. That’s sure to drum up the ire of fans while the league finds something else to over-promote.

Until then we should just reflect back on the glory days when Shaq joked about some unknown team from the West while Kobe acted like the big man was merely a role player.

Like the famed feud that began in 1863 along the Tug Fork off the Big Sandy River, this too had to pass. In time what peeved off the foundations of the Lakers’ dynasty will go the way of the stolen hog. No one will be sure if a jealous Kobe or a money-hungry Shaq was the cause of the collapse just as none can be sure if it was the sticky fingers of Floyd Hatfield that caused the 30-year tit-for-tat. What we do know is that the basketball feud didn’t end up like the one involving the two rural families that saw Bud, Tolbert and Pharmer McCoy being executed by “Devil Anse” Hatfield after the three killed his brother, Ellison, on election day in 1882.

And if the two clans can now get together for reunion barbecues in Pikeville, Ky., it should be possible for the two former teammates to enjoy a pregame hello now and then even if that’s what no one wants.

Still we have the memories. I’ve got nothing to say. I’m a married man; I don’t need a relationship with another man. - Shaq

I got Shaq the all-star MVP - Kobe

Ah, good times. Good times.

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