Shaq Does Right, A Bad Horse Name

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - June 15, 2005
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Just a few things for you to mull over while enjoying some quiet time before flushing.

It seems that no sooner do you have him figured out, Shaquille O’Neal shows once again why he’s one of the most fascinating people in sports. O’Neal is everything he seems to be. Proud, arrogant, funny, smart, self-centered, ego-driven and compassionate. After a big victory against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, Shaq, when he could have been thinking of nothing but further embarrassing the Lakers by getting his team into the NBA finals, turned his attention to an old man he had come to know. On national TV he told the family of George Mikan to contact the Heat because he wanted to pay for the big man’s funeral. Later saying, “Without No. 99, there is no me.”

The family accepted. No doubt it was something they would have preferred to kindly shrug off. But they couldn’t. The Mikan family is broke. Gone are his trophies, rings and any other mementos of his hall of fame career. All sold to pay for his treatment. He suffered from diabetes. He lost a leg. Dialysis came three times a week. Income was his $1,700 monthly pension check. Now with his passing, Patricia, his wife of 58 years, will get half that amount.

Sure, O’Neal feels he’s a Lamborgini in a world of Toyotas. Yes, he thinks he deserves to be the highest paid player in the game by a wide margin. That, of course, does not make him unique. Sgt. Philip A. Harrison told his adopted son the only way to avoid getting whupped was “to do right.” Congrats Mr. Harrison, your son has done right. Even when the NBA has not.

This guy just doesn’t get it. Garrett Redmond, a thoroughbred racehorse owner in Lexington Ky., has filed a federal law suit against The Jockey Club over the right to name one of his horses. The Jockey Club, which regulates the naming of thoroughbred racehorses, told Redmond that he could not name the horse Sally Hemings. Hemings was the African slave woman who many believe gave birth to possibly four children by Thomas Jefferson.

Redmond countered that naming a horse after someone is an honor; pointing to his wife as an example. He also figured that since the horse’s father was named Colonial Affair and mother was Jefferson’s Secret, it only makes sense to name the horse after a colonial president’s hushed-up affair.

While it is true that others have named horses after historical figures, it should be obvious that there is a big difference between Louis Quatorze — French King Louis XIV — and someone who represents the hypocritical evil of slavery and prejudice. Black woman — good enough for sex but not much else.

It was not terribly uncommon for male slave owners to find some carnal pleasure in the women they owned. It would be stupid to think these interludes were precluded by a nice dinner and an evening of theatre. At the very best, a slight few of these encounters may have dealt with some hint of real emotion. At the worst, they were rape.

Sally is believed to be the child of Elizabeth Hemings, a slave, and John Wayles, Jefferson’s father-in-law. In fact, Elizabeth may have been the child of just such a union between a slave woman and a white ship’s captain. Jefferson inherited his future “lover” who later became the nurse and maid to his daughter Martha. Hemings was paid a small salary while they toured Europe. This was so she would be properly attired and not to hint at any sort of free employment.

Sally had been described as very light-skinned. Nearly white. But, of course, she was tainted. She was a slave. A less-thanhuman because she was also black.

Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club, was quoted as saying the name may be offensive to people of African ancestry. It should be offensive to everyone.

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