- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2002

The rest of the globe mocks America's lukewarm response to the World Cup every four years.
The rest of the globe orders us to look at their footballers. So we look and say "well done," to be nice.
The rest of the globe pretends to be indignant with America. We pretend to go along with it, mostly because the NFL's official hut-hut is several months removed on the calendar.
The rest of the globe is pretty funny. The following is not intended to be funny.
I have one word for the rest of the globe: Shaq.
That Shaq, he's a bad
Shut your mouth.
He's a complicated man, but no one understands him but the Zen master.
Can you dig it?
Can you imagine it?
Not to be a party pooper or anything, but does the rest of the globe really want the participation of America's best athletes in soccer?
Think about it for a moment, FIFA. No, really. Think long and hard before you respond. Mexico is still in mourning from losing to the U.S. Do you want some of that, FIFA? OK. Cool.
I will start with Shaq in goal.
He is the Big Whopper of American athletes, a mountain of a man who can fill a goal with his presence.
Shaq would take a soccer ball and either pop it or kick it to the other end of the field.
You don't score against him. Ever. How would one of those itty-bitty guys slip the ball past Shaq? It would be impossible, spatially speaking. Shaq barely would have to move to stop a shot, and he moves extremely well anyway.
You want our best? Deal with Shaq in goal in 2006. Just what I thought. Silence. Say something. I can't hear you. Shaq is in goal and you lose. And you lose big. You lose by 5-0 every game, and that is being charitable.
Shaq is at one end of the field, and Allen Iverson, a natural striker, is at the other, pressing the attack, baffling defenders with his quickness, speed and crossover dribble.
The rest of the globe has been talking up Ronaldo this week. Fine. Here's to Ronaldo. Brazil, too.
Now here's Iverson, in your face. Go ahead, put three guys on the Answer. You'll need all three. If so, he'll dump the ball to either Gary Payton on one side or Jason Kidd on the other. How do you like that forward line? Same here.
Midfielders, anyone? Let's see. Come on down, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. What a formidable group.
That leaves just three positions in the lineup, the three in front of Shaq, as if he needs help.
The call goes to Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber and Rasheed Wallace, each almost as tall as Shaq and each certain to cover what small space is left.
Wallace is the wild card in the mix, and the words wild and card are appropriate. Wallace is wild, after all, and the card is bound to be red.
Wallace is the Crazy American, as opposed to the Ugly American, and the rest of the globe can consider this a warning.
The rest of the globe insists it wants America to be serious around the global sport. Well, we can be serious. We can end the silliness. We can defeat the combined teams of Brazil and Germany. But here's the deal: No crying after the fact. There's no crying in baseball, and the same should be true in soccer.
Small riots, however, are acceptable, as long as they are restricted to foreign soil.
The coach of this eclectic bunch is obvious, an easy choice, and nothing against Bruce Arena.
No last name is necessary with this man. No first name either.
He is the Zen master. Forget the nuances of soccer. The Zen master is at one with the environment. He dances with wolves and communes with Cochise. He hands out weighty tomes to his players and clears the air with incense.
If none of that works, he gives the ball to Kobe and tells everyone else to get out of the way. Kobe scores in English as well as in Italian, and that is that.
Are you taking notes, FIFA?
We're waiting.
We can fill out the rest of America's roster in four years, if necessary.
Otherwise, be thankful Shaq is not standing in goal and the Answer is not running circles around your best.

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