Soon, though, the Hollywood honeymoon will be over, and nobody will remember that it took Chamberlain four years to bring a championship to L.A. and Abdul-Jabbar five. The fans will want an NBA title now.
But nobody will root harder for Shaq than Rudy Garciduenas, the Lakers' equipment man the past 11 years. When Shaq arrived, he couldn't believe Rudy was using his girlfriend's beat-up Hyundai to get all the team's equipment from the Forum out to Loyola Marymount.
"Man, you need a new ride," Shaq kept teasing Rudy. Yeah, yeah, big joke. Rudy had heard it for years. But one day Shaq went up to Rudy and said, "No, seriously, you need a new ride"—and bought him a new Ford Ranger.
The day it arrived Rudy had a misty look in his eyes. He walked toward the big man with open arms, and....
"No, no, no," said Shaq. "No hugs, bro."
Which only goes to show that even if a man can't make free throws, he can still be a soft touch.
MY HOUSE, DENVER
There is this ringing in my ears. No, hold on. That's the phone. It's my editor in New York.
"You're late on the Shaq piece," he says.
"WHAAAAT?" I inquire.