- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Radio Shaq and the Colorado Kid have picked a curious moment to exchange insults if team harmony is as essential to the cause as advertised.

Another NBA season is under way, and the Lakers are first up in discord.

At least the charge of being selfish is accurate in both cases, both Shaq and Kobe full of themselves.

Shaq also was too fat last season, if not indifferent to the 82-game challenge.

His obsession with Burger King could not have helped the 100,000 miles on the Zen master’s ticker.

Alas, the mouths that snipe remain in excellent condition.

Shaq is demanding another payload from the Lakers, and Kobe is endeavoring to stay out of prison.

If Shaq persists, Kobe is liable to extend Pam Mackey’s services to the basketball court. She is tougher than both of them and packs a team of thorough investigators.

Shaq has had an active sex life as well, some of it in his own mind once made public, which led to a round of apologies to the women who recoiled at the thought.

Shaq has a well-known propensity for sticking a couple of Whoppers and a foot into his mouth.

Shaq even exercised his bilingual First Amendment rights with Yao Ming last season.

“Ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh,” Shaq said, without an interpreter or subtitles.

Shaq has taken to professing anew that the Lakers are his team, which is another of his unbecoming obsessions. He also felt compelled to lend his medical expertise to Kobe, which is not bad for someone who completed three years of questionable academic duty at Dale Brown’s interplanetary way station in Baton Rouge, La.

Kobe did not appreciate either the medical advice or the possessive case advanced by Shaq and hit the big fellow with an assortment of plain talk that requires no parsing: “Fat, childlike selfishness and jealously.”

Kobe also showed two can play doctor, a childhood exercise that goes with this locker room.

“I don’t miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn’t that serious in the first place,” Kobe told ESPN, speaking of the big toe that once balked under Shaq’s previously expanding girth.

Kobe undoubtedly should have stayed above the verbal fray. He has enough problems as it is: at home, in Colorado and with a franchise that never has responded well to his distant manner.

As America’s No. 1 adulterer, Kobe is up a tainted creek, without two strong knees and the leading supporter of his basketball worthiness, Jerry West, ensconced in Memphis, Tenn., with Hubie Brown, the NBA’s two most fashionable geezers who imagine the obvious if Kobe opts out of Los Angeles after this season.

The two rent-a-teammates, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, both playing for nickels and dimes for a chance to secure a championship, undoubtedly knew there would be trying times, just not before the opening game.

In the recent past, Shaq has called himself a big brother to Kobe, usually after a 20-point victory and sufficient touches in the post. Kobe now even disputes the periods of good feelings between them, inspired by three NBA championships.

After his mess in Colorado hit America’s fan, Kobe said he received calls of support from a number of teammates and coaches and players around the NBA, but not one call from his so-called “big brother.”

Kobe’s “big brother” could have been out to lunch, of course, except the “big brother” reported to training camp this season without the usual mustard and ketchup stains on his lips after spending the summer with a personal trainer.

Kobe and Shaq are destined to broker another peace, if only to avoid a high-intensity session of incense, pet rocks and psycho-babble from the Zen master. He could ask the two egos to stand on their heads and hum after him, plus play calming tapes of the wind rustling through the trees and the ocean water lapping against the shore.

Kobe, in desperation, always could go to his favorite jeweler and purchase a $4million “friendship ring” for his buddy.

A “friendship ring” probably would not be as appealing as a fourth championship ring, but as Kobe’s wife might attest, a ring with a hefty price tag has a certain therapeutic power.

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