Shaquille O'Neal's declining CD sales evoke the early ages of civilization, but in reverse. His first disc went platinum. His second went gold. His third disc, like his free throws, went iron. Now comes O'Neal's fourth album, Respect, in which the Los Angeles Lakers center does not entirely disprove what die rock star and social critic Gregg Allman once said: "Rap? It's short for crap."
The NBA must end its lockout soon, but not because the league has canceled Denver versus Dallas in November. On the contrary: That was an unexpected delight, like waking in winter to school-closing announcements. Rather, the NBA must end its lockout before another idle player has time to act, rap, write, produce or product-plug. Please. A recent visitor to the Shaq World Online Web site asked, "Hey, Shaq Daddy! What have you been doing during the lockout?" To which Shaq—whose .527 free throw percentage last season gave renewed resonance to the phrase foul shooting-responded: "I've been chilling, promoting the album."
Ah, the album, on which Shaq reassures a father whose daughter he is escorting to a pool party: "I'll bring her home in one piece/Though she came in a two-piece." We have all heard basketball announcers say of one player or another, "This guy can create." They're not talking about art.
Take Dennis Rodman. He doesn't rap, but he has just wrapped—on production of his latest movie, in which the Worm plays an Interpol agent who teams with two monks/computer wizards in the South of France to rescue the kidnapped daughter of an old crony who just happens to be a...oh, never mind. By this point in the film, most moviegoers will have long since pulled a Ted Kaczynski and tried to hang themselves with their own underwear.
That was certainly true of both people who bought tickets to My Giant, which 7'7" Washington Wizards center Gheorghe Muresan filmed in the summer of '97. Last season the Romanian played in exactly eight games, having insufficiently rehabbed the stretched tendon in his right ankle while on the movie set. But then, Muresan lists Arnold Schwarzenegger as his childhood hero, not Willis Reed.
Shaq himself confesses that one of his burning ambitions is "to get a Terminator 3 role with Arnold Schwarzenegger." In the meantime he is honing his chops in a new video, currently in heavy rotation on MTV. O'Neal stars with Magic Johnson and Lisa Leslie as well as two actors from a hauntingly similar stylistic school—Steven Seagal and the Taco Bell chihuahua.
As if this veritable Edinburgh Festival of NBA culture weren't enough, we can also look forward to albums from Lakers swing-man Kobe Bryant, Milwaukee Bucks forward Tyrone Hill and Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber, who has also acted on Fox's New York Undercover, which is not to be confused with HBO's Oz, on which Lakers forward Rick Fox has supplemented his own NBA paycheck.
Paycheck? What these guys need is spellcheck. Bryant is a member of the Philadelphia hip-hop ensemble Cheizaw. Hill's record label produces an act called KompoZur. Webber's forthcoming album will feature guest artist Kurupt. Rodman's movie is called Simon Sez. Shaq's new CD, on which he collaborated with Peter Gunz and Majah League, includes a cut called Blaq Sapaman.
The shortest review in the history of live theater was for a London play called I Am a Camera, about which one critic wrote: "No Leica."
But the manifold multimedia moonlighting of NBA stars can be summed up still more briefly. Simply put: It suqz.