- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Vlade Divac is falling down again, going to the floor following another encounter with Shaquille O'Neal.
Is there a doctor in the house?
Divac appears to have a serious inner-ear infection.
Divac can't keep his balance, and Kobe Bryant can't keep down the hotel food.
They call this home cookin' in Sacramento.
Some 7-footers play small. Divac plays the smallest, usually from the fetal position on the floor.
When Divac goes to the floor, the referees go to their whistles. Their Pavlovian response only encourages him.
Divac is getting shakier in his old basketball age, alleged to be 34, according to the records of the old Yugoslavia. He does not look a day older than 44. His hair is going with his balance. Next it will be his ability to digest solid foods.
Divac sometimes winds up on the floor because of a gentle breeze.
This is not basketball. This is a physical condition. A cane or walker is merited.
Divac is the first NBA player to be a threat to himself. He is bound to break a hip one of these days. He should not be allowed to shower by himself.
Whenever Divac goes tumbling to the floor, a stretcher comes out, along with the smelling salts. How many fingers? No, no, no. The trainer asks, "How many fouls is that on Shaq?"
Most players work on their shooting between games. Divac works on his pratfalls. He is Jim Carrey in short pants and a jersey. He even can make his face stretch like rubber if a call is not to his liking.
Divac falls with the best choreographers, most of whom are in the employ of Vince McMahon. If Divac is not falling, he is flailing his arms on a shot attempt, as if they have been subjected to an electrical shock. The television replays often show he must have imagined it. That could be the first sign of dementia.
Wherever Divac goes, over-the-top theater is certain to follow. He has an assortment of looks, notably looks of disbelief, anguish, pain and fear. The game is the intrusion between acts for Divac. He even cries on cue.
O'Neal is contemptuous of the performing artist in his presence. Not that O'Neal has an Oscar to go with his acting credits. He was, after all, Kazaam.
Life sometimes imitates bad art.
O'Neal was scoring in bunches in the second quarter of Game 2 before Divac came down with a series of disabling seizures. O'Neal wound up on the bench with his third foul, and Divac and the Kings wound up with a game-preserving tonic.
Otherwise, Divac is stuck between the rock of O'Neal and the hard place of the floor. Those are large footprints running up Divac's back. He can't defend O'Neal, which puts him in the company of the rest of the NBA. He can pretend to have been shot out of a cannon. He can implore the three referees to restrict O'Neal's movements.
With Divac going into convulsions, O'Neal elicited a couple of fouls merely by turning to the basket. O'Neal is so good, it seems, pity is taken on the opponent who has terror in his eyes and foam coming out of his mouth.
This is the hope within the hope of the Kings, almost happy to have split the first two games of the series at their place.
The change in venue is convenient, if Divac is inclined to enhance his credibility with makeup, lighting and special effects. The help is expected to be necessary in Los Angeles, given the tendency of referees to be responsive to the needs of the home crowd. Even referees like to be liked.
Divac started his career with the Lakers. The memories are fond, especially the trade in 1996 that resulted in Divac going to the Hornets in exchange for Bryant.
For now, Divac is determined to check out all the soft landing spots before Game 3.
You know the rest.
Divac is looking up, O'Neal is looking down, and somewhere in all that is an NBA playoff game.
Flop, flop. Zzz, zzz.
Let 'em play?
Divac might faint at the prospect.
We can always hope.


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