Wednesday , Mar , 28 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Superman Shaq Is Back

In this post, Oly looks at Shaq’s recent run of great games.

Superman Shaq Is Back

{{The Take: Shaq Looking Like Superman Again.}}

It was January, 1991. The fresh-faced, statuesque center from Louisiana State University rose from the bench to re-enter the game. The score was tied, five minutes remaining. His opponent, the nationally ranked Arizona Wildcats featured four future NBA players: Jud Buecheler, Steve Kerr, Sean Rooks, and Bison Dele.

So far, the Wildcats had successfully neutralized the young giant. The rest of the game would be different. He dominated, throwing down several dunks, grabbing every available rebound, and contesting all shots.

His team won. A wide smile, that would become his trademark, suddenly appeared. Shaquille O’Neal had arrived.

Years later, the smile is still there. It never left. Some of his skills did leave, until recently.

Shaquille O’Neal is in the middle of a basketball renaissance. Since Dwayne Wade’s injury, ‘The Big Aristotle’ has returned to his old form.

He’s demanding the ball. He’s competing on defense. He’s setting the table for teammates on offense by creating an inside-outside flow.

Most importantly, he’s having fun again. The bounce in his step is back. The creative celebrations are back. And the nicknames are also back. The tattoo is once again applicable; Shaq Clark Kent is no more and Superman has taken flight.

His teammates have noticed, too. The Heat, a veteran squad, have rallied around their rejuvenated pivot, posting an impressive record since the injury to Wade. Even Coach Riley’s hair looks younger-which could be good or bad, you decide.

It’s not 1991. He’s no longer the future. But Shaq is still worth watching.

{{ Last Night’s Hi-Flying Highlight:}} Fourth quarter, Lakers versus Grizzlies. Rudy Gay, Memphis’ athletic rookie, gets the ball on a fast break. He elevates and extends his body, hoping to put Kobe Bryant in a poster. Gay barely misses what would have been a classic dunk. It was still impressive.

{{Worth Watching:}} The T-Wolves, Kevin Garnett aside, are dysfunctional. Last night, they blew a 25 point lead and ended up losing to Seattle. Minnesota must make wholesale changes.