It is so easy for an athlete to receive forgiveness for this sin, though. So easy. And without even having to actually erase or even conceal the arrogance, either. Giant Shaquille O’Neal has offered the blueprint, and Giant Brian Wilson is following it now. Just do things with a wink and a smile. Not all the time. Just occasionally enough that it will thaw even the anger when the arrogance appears. The fan, by definition, wants to root for you. A smile and a wink gives more reasons, reminding everyone amid this super-serious coverage that this is all supposed to be fun and games.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: He’s no angel. Never was, either.
Shaquille O’Neal’s resume is full of gaffes, missteps, and legal infractions. To top it off, ‘The Big Broadcaster’ was never committed to training and practice.
This was often brushed aside because O’Neal had personality.
Two examples stick out. Years back, Kobe Bryant, O’Neal’s former teammate and foe with the Lakers, ratted to reporters about the seven-footer’s extramarital affairs when his own scandal in Colorado broke. Nobody cared. O’Neal was painted with a sympathetic brush.
Then there was the ‘company time’ fiasco. Rather than get a required surgical procedure during summer so he could be ready for the season, O’Neal held off going under the knife until training camp began.
O’Neal justified his decision with the classic line ‘I got hurt on company time, so I’ll rehab on company time’.
Missing the first twelve games of the season had consequences. With O’Neal out of shape, the Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semi-Finals and squandered a chance at a fourth consecutive championship.
Once again, O’Neal escaped criticism. He smiled. He winked. He laughed. He joked. And we forgave.
For nearly two decades, O’Neal played media and fans. He was always far smarter than he let on.
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