Less than a month ago, Shaquille O'Neal sat down with The Wall Street Journal and stated that he wouldn't have any good rivals from today's NBA game, not even Anthony Davis.
O’Neal scoffed at the idea that young stars like the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis would have been a challenge for him. "Too little for me," he said of Davis. "That’s barbeque chicken down there."
Considering his overall tone, though, there was a good chance he was not completely serious, something one should frequently expect when he slips into character in the form of one of his many created egos. Just read what he had said moments earlier.
O’Neal, who has been overseas promoting an energy drink, was asked whether he misses playing. "Never," he said. "No, I don’t miss the game. Because, to put it in kung fu terms, the master Shaq Fu killed off all of his enemies.
"Now, there are new enemies that have come up, but they’re no match for the great Shaq Fu. So, the great Shaq Fu is in the mountain, chilling with Buddha and the monasteries, chilling with the rest of the Buddhist monks. And whoever wants to challenge him, they know where to find him."
To further prove this point, Shaq has gone on record before praising Davis.
"I like Anthony Davis because he does it all," NBA TV and Turner Sports NBA analyst Shaquille O’Neal said in-studio on Tiki and Tierney. "I was taught as a youngster if you don’t get the rebound and you don’t want to be doubled, be the first up court. Run. Run your ass off. Run. I was taught to get the rebound, throw elbows. I was taught to play in the high-percentage area. He does that. He doesn’t try to do too much, and he can step out and shoot the jumper. I never did that, but he can do that."
However, perhaps to dismiss any ill-contrived notions, Shaq again showered Davis with praise this past week.
''He's (Davis) probably the best at that position. He can run, rebound, dominate take over games. He's going to do his thing this year.''
The reasoning is simple. It's not about the Diesel anymore; it's about his son, Shareef. Shaq's playing days are over, but his son's are just beginning. In no way does it make any sense to leave any impressions of degrading one of the game's best. It is not only about avoiding placement of an unnecessary target on his son's back, but moreso, about keeping the avenues of communication good and open with an ideal model.
Instead of pushing him to pattern his game after him, O'Neal said he's told his son to learn the game by watching power forward Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans' transcedent star who finished fifth in the league's MVP voting last season.
''I told him to watch Anthony because he's probably going to be the same height and have the same type of build,'' said O'Neal, who returned to Baton Rouge to host his annual annual LSU Life Skills Golf Classic at Carter Plantation on Friday in Springfield. ''Not skinny, but long.
In less than a month's time, Anthony Davis has gone from barbecue chicken to the aspiration of Shaquille O'Neal's son. Well played Big Aristotle, well played.