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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Could It Be the Shoes for Shaq?

March 16, 2000|GRAHAME L. JONES

Finally, some bright soul has figured out the real reason for Shaquille O'Neal's so-so free-throw shooting.

It's his feet.

Or so says Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post, who spent an afternoon stumbling around in a pair of Shaq's size 22s and lived to tell about it.

"On the feet of O'Neal, his newly designed shoes look sweet," Kiszla wrote. "They are black, with enough stitched leather to supply gloves for the entire Dodger infield."

At the line, though, that kind of large spells trouble.

"It's amazing the Laker center can make 50% of his foul shots. He is forced to shoot them from farther behind the line than anybody else in the NBA. From where O'Neal stands, a free throw is more than a 15-footer. It's no gimme.

"Even when he nudges the tip of his size 22 within a frog's hair of the foul line, the big fella's heel sits a full 16 feet, 4 inches from the basket.

"In other words, each of his feet is nearly a foot and a half."

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Footing the bill: Kiszla says he has another idea he'd like to try.

"In the name of better understanding of what it's like to be the NBA's biggest player, I have a new dream: All day tomorrow, I want to try living on Shaq's paycheck."

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Trivia time: What NHL team was nicknamed "The Old Folks Home"?

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Dollar signs: According to Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury News, George Steinbrenner's Yankees will cost the owner $95 million in salary this season.

"But if money was all that mattered," Geracie wrote, "the Dodgers would not be 12 years without so much as one postseason victory and Cal Ripken would have a handful of rings instead of just one."

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Hoop and holler: The NCAA selection committee's field of 64 didn't please the Washington Post's Tony Kornheiser.

"I'm chagrined that neither George Mason nor George Washington got in the NCAA, since I wanted them in a 'Buy George' parlay with George Michael and my boss, George Solomon."

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Now you know: Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer offers a thought for the new season.

"At the elite level, baseball is a game of sufficient difficulty that it is fairly remarkable anybody can play it well. Those who do, earn millions. Those who don't, are minor legends in Tacoma and Seoul."

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Give me a break: "Don't feel too sorry for U of Cincy's Kenyon Martin," says the Denver Post's Jim Armstrong. "He could start for the Clippers, broken leg and all."

Ouch.

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Icing it: Armstrong wasn't surprised when the Colorado Avalanche's Ray Bourque missed his first practice with the team because of a pulled groin.

"The guy is 39," he wrote. "When you're 39, life is one big groin pull."

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Trivia answer: The 1967 Maple Leafs, who had seven players 36 or older.

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And finally: The Bulgarian soccer fan formerly known as Martin Zdravkov has had his wish granted. A Sofia lower court's denial has been overturned on appeal and Zdravkov was allowed to change his name to Manchester United.

No word on whether his cat wants to change its name too. The feline is called Beckham.

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