To Boo Not to Boo, That Is The Question

 —  December 21, 2004

Starting at center for the Miami Heat, out of Louisiana State University, Shaquille O’Neal…..

And your reaction is?

Assuming he plays (and after all his hype I’m sure he will), I’m curious to see what we will hear when Shaq is introduced in Staples Center just after noon Christmas Day, and what happens when he touches the ball. I’m sure there will be some boos rained down on him, but I wonder whether or not that will grow as the game wears on.

The Lakers have a divided red state/blue state fan base right now: Those that think Kobe, like Danny Manning in Kansas, will carry this team to a title in the coming years and Shaq is a traitor for asking for a trade; and those that think Buss made the wrong choice in the Shaq/Kobe divorce, going with someone who will drive away free agents while letting the best center of all time go. With this showdown looming and the Lakers looking pathetic their last two games, that divide has widened, and I’m sure the pro-Kobe fans at the game will let Shaq hear it. I never remember Laker fans this split on an issue.

Personally, if I was willing to spend the money set aside for a house down payment so I could get tickets to this game, I wouldn’t boo him — Shaq meant a lot to this city and this team. When he retires in a few years, his jersey should be up on the walls next to Wilt and Kareem. That said, I’m not going to cheer for him either.

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Did you hear what Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter said in a radio interview this weekend? He’s not thrilled about playing on Christmas Day:

”Thank you very much, my daughter really appreciates that her dad has to be away on Christmas. Thank you NFL. This is bullshit. This is bullshit. You are going to take us away from our family on Christmas day and make us play on a Saturday. We can play on Sunday and make it a multiple Monday night game. That’s bull. Then, the fact that the Lakers are playing the Heat, no one is even going to watch our game.”

Update: The Boston Celtic players, who got to play against a Shaq-less Heat last night, are obviously Oliver Stone fans when it comes to Shaq’s calf injury:

“Oh, he wants to be ready for Saturday,” said Paul Pierce, referring to Miami’s mega-hyped game against the Lakers – and the reunion of O’Neal and Kobe Bryant – on Christmas Day. Though it was pointed out that the Heat have an even tougher date on tap in Sacramento Thursday, Gary Payton shook his head. “He won’t even be going in Sacramento,” the Celtics point guard predicted.