The former part-time sheriff's deputy is averaging 13.0 points and 9.7 boardsper game.
Dan Patrick: Hi,brother, how are you?
Shaquille O'Neal:I'm good, brother, trying to be like you when I grow up.
DP: What do youwant to be when you grow up, by the way?
SO: Wouldn't mindbeing a president or general manager.
DP: What kind ofboss do you think you'd make?
SO: I'd be amacromanager rather than a micromanager. I would let people do their jobswithout busting too many chops.
DP: You came upwith the Big Shogun. What do you think of the nickname I came up with for youin Arizona: the Big Shactus?
SO: That was nice.That was nice.
DP: What do you dobetter now than, say, 10 years ago?
SO: I'm a lotsmarter. I didn't start winning championships until I started losing myathletic ability. When I came in, I was running, jumping and flying, and we'dbe going home in the first round. Soon as I turned 30 and the legs weren'treally there, I started winning championships.
DP: O.K., ifyou're going to teach your kids how to play in the pivot, do you have them lookat your footwork or Tim Duncan's?
SO: No, I havethem look at all the guards. I let them watch Kobe and T-Mac.
DP: What is thepart of Kobe's game that you say to your kids, "Just watch what he does,nobody does that better?"
DP: Most intenseplayer in the league?
SO: Oh, yes, byfar the best player in the league.
DP: Who's theideal TV police officer, somebody you idolized growing up?
SO: I'm going togo with T.J. Hooker.
SO: Yes, T.J.Hooker was Number 1, and Number 2 was MacGyver.
DP: But MacGyverwasn't really a police officer, was he?
SO: I'm not surewhat he was. Was he a cop, was he a special agent?
DP: All I know isI could put MacGyver on the Atlanta Hawks, and he would somehow make themgood.
SO: Yes, hewould.
IT'S BECOMING themost dangerous play in sports: the celebration. After Texas Tech knocked offTexas, Red Raiders QB Graham Harrell's roommate did the one thing the LonghornsD couldn't: put a hard hit on him. "He had a running start, and I didn'thave my guard up," said Harrell, who was about to throw a punch until herealized it was his buddy on his back. And last Friday Brad Lidge described thehorror of being dropped by Ryan Howard, who took him down following the finalout of the World Series with a hit Roger Goodell probably would have fined himfor. Of course being crushed in a pile is better than the alternative. "Myknee was bent over the back of my head at some point," said Lidge, "butit was the best I've ever felt."
Off the Hook
IT WASN'T quiteJoe Namath before Super Bowl III, but last week wide receiver T.J.Houshmandzadeh vowed that the Bengals would win a game—any game—promising towalk the 27 miles from his house in Cerritos, Calif., to the NFL NetworkStudios in Culver City if they went 0--16. "If that's the case, I'll put onmy walking shoes and get to trottin'," he told me. T.J. got his guaranteedwin on Sunday: Cincinnati beat Jacksonville 21--19. Good for him. He doesn'tneed that hanging over his head. After all, the Bengals are known foroff-the-field trouble, and isn't walking against the law in L.A.?
YOU CAN'T accuseMike Singletary of lacking passion. At halftime of his first game as 49erscoach, he dropped trou to illustrate his point that the team was beingembarrassed, then he called out tight end Vernon Davis in the postgame pressconference. I asked Phil Jackson if that kind of motivation would work forthem. He said he prefers "patience and repetition" as teaching tools.Jackson threw a can of Coke in frustration at halftime of a playoff game sevenor eight years ago, and he still regrets it. "It really bothered me,"he said. "I find most of the time [a tantrum] either does damage toyourself, or you end up not getting your point across or you become afool."
THE FINE PRINT:The Titans are 7--0 with Kerry Collins as their starting QB. And you thoughtVince Young was depressed before....
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