Sunday, April 13, 2008

Curse of the Shaquino

From's Marc Stein:

"I like Big Cactus. Why? Because I'm old and because nobody really knows what type of cactus I am. But I will prick your ass if you touch me the wrong way."

--- Suns center Shaquille O'Neal, delving into the truly important stuff -- now that his new team has its on-court business flowing so nicely -- by explaining why he sees no need to amend his latest nickname, as you might have expected, to the Big Shaq-tus.

O'Neal, furthermore, is not dropping his latest inflammatory assertion that Orlando's Dwight Howard has not earned the right to associate himself with Superman, as Shaq has done for years. "Anyone can win a slam-dunk contest," O'Neal announced last week. "The real Superman is dead. He was assassinated by Pat Riley. I'm the Big Cactus now and ready to roll again."

That quote popped into my head when I saw Shaq on Monday wearing a pair of custom-made Superman sneaks on his way out of practice. When I jokingly asked him what he was doing with Dwight's shoes on, Shaq promptly (and sternly) informed me (after a few unprintables) that Howard still has to "get past the Shaquino" in the playoffs for such a privilege.

If you're losing track -- not hard when it comes to Shaq and all of his monikers -- "Shaquino" is a reference to what is known among Magic fans as the "Curse of the Shaquino," which blames O'Neal's abrupt free-agent defection to the Lakers in the summer of 1996 for Orlando's subsequent decade-plus of woe.