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The Appeal of O'Neal
Rick Reilly
June 05, 2000
Nobody ever sends Goliath a thank you note, so....
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June 05, 2000

The Appeal Of O'neal

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Nobody ever sends Goliath a thank you note, so....

Thank you, Shaquille O'Neal, win or lose, for everything you do and everything you don't.

Thanks for never showing up in the sports section my kids read with a bowl of cocaine, three "freelance models" and a Glock 17.

Thanks for never getting stopped for weaving down the middle of the San Diego Freeway at 3 a.m. with the blood-alcohol level of Boris Yeltsin.

Thanks for not throwing your dates through windows or down staircases or out of limousines. A lot of us have daughters who admire you.

Thanks for busting your rather enormous butt. How a guy 7'1", 320 pounds making $18 million a year stays hungry I have no idea, but you do. You played more minutes this season than ever before. You can't sleep after losses. You have your own key to the Mira Costa High girls' gym just so you can go and shoot free throws for an hour—sometimes even after wins.

Thanks for not sticking a big stogie in your mouth after every win or conducting your postgame interviews with two bimbos under each arm. You're kind enough to let your owner do that.

Thanks for being big-time generous. You gave $1 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which inspired Bill Gates to pony up enough for 30 new clubs, which sparked AOL chairman Steve Case to provide 30,000 computers and 30,000 Internet accounts for Boys and Girls Clubs around the country. And they say one person can't make a difference.

Thanks for being small-time generous, too. You make the payments on your trainer's truck. You dress up in ridiculous costumes, Shaq-a-bunny at Easter and Shaq-a-Claus at Christmas, to take the embarrassment out of folks having to take a handout. That's decency. People don't forget that. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is hanging around the Los Angeles Clippers now and nobody seems to mind, but Lakers fans will have you bronzed 10 minutes after you retire.

Thanks for wanting to get better. Some young stars level off. Penny Hardaway, for instance. But you've ratcheted up everything about your game this season. You blocked more shots, scored more points, had more assists and cleared more rebounds than ever before. You even improved your free throw percentage. Hey, as the midget in elevator heels said, "Every little bit helps."

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