What The Shaq?

Brown Knows

Mine eyes have seen the fury of the coming of the Shaq.

And it's not pretty.

Shaquille O'Neal, the basketball center/rapper/Pepsi spokesman/owner of a tattoo with a superman logo, has really outdone himself this time. I mean, really outdone himself.

It all began so innocently. It was Saturday evening, and on a whim I decided to check out what was up with my fellow sportswriter Matt Howitt.

Next thing I know, I'm watching MTV in his DeWolfe room. Then came the nuclear bomb.

"MTV's The State is brought to you by Shaq Fu, the hot new game for the Sega Genesis system," the television blurted.

Say what?

All there was on the screen was a strange logo that said, "Shaq Fu." Slowly and terrifyingly, I began to realize what I was about to see.

Then came the ad. It was beyond my worst nightmares.

It was set in an alley. A mean-looking crowd huddled around a guy that looked vaguely like Frazier from Cheers.

"He's bad!" the man yelled defiantly.

But it could only get worse. A projection camera displayed images of SHis Shaqness doing some pretty pathetic karate moves.

A clip of the actual video game followed, and, well, what can you say? It made Donkey Kong look like an artistic work surpassed only by Picasso.

There was a Cartoon Shaq (wearing something that looked vaguely similar to his Orlando Magic uniform) jumping around, shooting unexplained energy blasts--a sort of Mortal Shaqbat.

"It's Kung Fu," a cool-sounding guy declared, "Shaq style."

Uh, yeah. Right. And I'm supposed to pay $60 so that I can make Shaq run around? For that much money, the final opponent in the game had better be John Starks. Or Mark Eaton. Or better yet, a three-armed Pat Riley throwing flaming grease balls.

It has been three days since I saw this ad, and my brain still feels like malt-o-meal.

All that goes through my head is, "Why? Why did you do this?"

What's next, Mr. O'Neal? Are you going to take on David Carridine in the greatest Kung Fu battle ever waged between stunt men? How about sparring with Michael Jordan in cyber-mutant-battlegolf?

I can see the ad for that now. Both warriors, clad in plaid pants with mustard yellow polo shirts and tweed hats, hurling cybernetic golf balls at each other and wielding bioengineered pitching wedges.

(Of course, given Jordan's batting average, he'll only hit Shaq 20% of the time.)

Personally, I think that Shaq is a nice person. His trademark goofy smile is, in my estimation, natural. But Shaq just can't tell when he looks like a fool.

His life is a fantasy. He wakes up in the morning, and thinks, "I wanna be in a video game. That would be really neat."

But at what cost? Doesn't he see that doing stuff like this hurts his reputation among other NBA players? Remember, without basketball, Shaq--he media darling--is nothing.

If Shaq becomes a more mediocre player, he will be laughed at for his hubris-filled hobbies. And when that day comes--and sometime it will--the legend of Shaq Fu will not continue.