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Sorry, Shaq: You're Never Going to Please Everybody

May 09, 1998

I'm writing early to avoid the I-told-you-so crowd that surely will come streaming forth once the Lakers are knocked out of the playoffs.

Am I the only guy who seems to notice that the emperor has no clothes? The emperor is, of course, Shaquille O'Neal, slam-dunker and world-class perspirer.

Is everybody too busy gawking to actually watch the Lakers play? They went much of the early season sans Shaq and had the best record in the league. What's more, they played as a team and displayed great promise. The adoring sportswriters couldn't wait for Shaq to return and blast the Lakers into a higher orbit. When he rejoined the club, it was goodbye team play, so long best record in the league. When the Lakers played teams with smaller centers, less expensive centers, no centers, Shaq the Great disappeared.

This is O'Neal's sixth year in the league. He has dabbled in the postseason, but never managed to win even one game in a championship series, let alone a title. Still, his admiring legions voted Shaq one of the 50 greatest of all time. All time? Hell, there are 50 guys playing today I'd take over Shaq, starting with most of the players on Seattle, Utah and Chicago. And speaking of Seattle, Utah and Chicago, their centers are who again?

The truth is, the Lakers have hitched their wagon to the wrong star. This year should prove that having Goliath doesn't mean anything when the world is full of Davids.

DAVID AMACK, San Clemente

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