Love, flak over letter to Shaq
From the Page 2 mailbag senior editor Royce Webb's article on Shaquille O'Neal and his negative effect on the pro game Wednesday elicited one of the largest and most intense reader responses in the history of Page 2. Readers were split pretty much down the middle on whether Webb is an "idiot" (or worse) or a gutsy "genius" who dares to speak the truth when all around him are fawning.

Here is a representative selection of readers' e-mails, in a few cases edited for length and/or repetition:

I don't often write to columnists, but I just wanted to let you know that your "Dear Shaq" column was, without a doubt, my favorite piece of sports-related writing in recent memory. I forwarded it to all the sports fans I know, and I can tell you that, outside the city of Los Angeles (where I live), there is significant agreement.

This is something that's been bugging me for quite some time now (exactly three years, in fact), and the purple-and-gold clad people in this city derided me as a Laker-hater. I grew up in Louisiana and watched Shaq ply his craft at LSU. The year he was drafted by Orlando, my family moved to central Florida, and the year that I began my freshman year of college at USC, Shaq signed with the Lakers (yes, believe me, it was entirely coincidental). So I've had the privilege (?) of watching the length and breadth of his career, and it's been one of the ugliest sights to behold in the history of sports.

Anyway, this is a piece that I'll keep close at hand throughout the waning moments of Shaq's career. While you may have made some new enemies in Los Angeles, you've also gained at least one hard-core fan.

Keep up the great work.
Phil Guidry
Los Angeles

Royce Webb's article on Shaquille O'Neal is one of the best things I've ever read. It's amazing to me that more members of the media aren't willing to take a stand and put these facts into writing. Bravo, Royce ... please have more anti-Shaq articles in the future.
Jason Rugg
King of Prussia, Pa.

Royce Webb is telling Shaq (the about to be three-time champ) to change his game? Why would he do that? And that whole garbage about how much he'd suck if he were a 6-1 point guard is also stupid. What would you say about Allen Iverson if he were 7-1, 350? Nothing, 'cuz his game would be nothing like it is now.
Jared Wohlgemuth

Royce Webb is exactly right. Shaq is not a great basketball player. He is a big, fat lug who simply takes up too much space. He is neither athletic nor skilled, and his ugly game ruins the experience for the rest of us. Webb is right on the money when saying the game would be served well by forcing O'Neal to actually learn how to play basketball rather than use his corpulent body to win a game.
Ben Nussdorf

Royce Webb is an idiot. I think Dostoevsky wrote a book about him.
Edison, N.J.

Ohmigod, Royce Webb's open letter to Shaquille O'Neal is the finest piece of expository writing I have ever read! Every word is pure truth -- Shaq is the basketball Antichrist and Phil Jackson will someday have to answer to his self-proclaimed mentor, Red Holtzman, for the coaching abomination he has unleashed on on the world!

If something is not done soon, the NBA will be forced to change its name to the World Wrestling Association!
Moscow, Idaho

Who the hell is Royce Webb? Do us a favor, Royce Webb, stop writing articles so that the rest of us can enjoy Page 2.

Go watch the the under-6-foot league. Petition MLB to ban Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson because they are too good. Petition the NFL to make the St. Louis Rams wear cement shoes, so there's no advantage.

You broke the cardinal rule: Don't hate the player, hate the game or the NBA, in this case. Is it Shaq's fault that the league doesn't call these fouls you see? Shaq has no skills? He's the best passer of the real big men (Euros don't count because they're on the perimeter), great hands and footwork.

The problem is the NBA has nothing to offer to take on the Lakers except a team of whiners, who can't hit free throws in Sacramento.
Doug Spurlock
San Diego

In basketball, as in all sports, we enjoy watching those who can do things beyond what we consider normal physical limitations. What's amazing about Shaq is not only his size but what he can do with his size. There are and have been plenty of big people in the NBA who do not have a 10th of the skill that Shaq does. If it's all because of his size, then why not throw a uniform on someone such as John Runyan and see what he can do against Shaq? My guess is not much.
John R.
New York

Royce Webb obviously has the endemic "Page 2 assumed cleverness disease."

I really don't understand why Royce Webb feels so threatened about a basketball player. Perhaps his weak team got swept by the Lakers, or perhaps he is just a terrible basketball player himself, has no game at all, and feels insanely jealous.

Either way, giving a loser like him a column really offends the true sports fans who come to this site looking for informed sports discussions. In his column, he has no valid points to make, and what's with all of that name-calling? To me, it just smacks of yet another middle-aged white guy "writer" with no talent and no game who tries to compensate by tearing down and unfairly criticizing people when they don't even have a clue.
Flavio Chan
West Covina, Calif.

I can't believe that Page 2 would post an article that begs the most dominant player in the league today to quit for the good of the game. I'm neither a Shaq fan nor a Lakers fan, but it sounds like the author is definitely anti-Shaq.

Perhaps Royce is also either a Kings fan, or is it the Nets, or Sixers, or Pacers? You want him to quit because he doesn't have the skills of a point guard? What true No. 5 player has those skills? His game is ugly and too physical? Perhaps, while you're asking Shaq to quit for the fans, you should ask the fans to disregard any memories of Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and many others who dominated physically. And how often did MJ get called for traveling? Or Hakeem Olajuwon?

The truth is traveling is rarely called on anybody in the NBA today even though most players do it quite frequently, especially the superstars. Don't hate someone for being too dominant and don't blame the big guy for the problems with the league. Change the rules if necessary, but don't change the players.
Cody Croley
Beaumont, Texas

I completely disagree with several points in this article. First, Shaq is not the only star to get the benefit of the calls. Michael Jordan would repeatedly travel and carry the ball while the refs looked the other way.

And secondly, every big man in the game travels when he receives the ball down low. The refs do not call it, so the players have adapted to it.

Finally, while Shaq dishes out his fair amount of punishment, he is without a doubt one of the few players in the league who is fouled every time he touches the ball. He gets hit and slapped more than any other offensive player in the game.

And while I agree with you that Shaq was a one-dimensional player when he entered the NBA, his game has improved by leaps and bounds since then. He is not only a dunker anymore. He has a nice jump hook, a fadeaway jumper and a drop-step that all big men use. What about that fallaway bank shot he hit against New Jersey in the fourth quarter of Game 3? Also, Shaq has developed into the best passing center in league next to Vlade Divac. He is a complete player and he is willing to give the ball to his teammates if the defense gives him the opportunity.

Besides, it isn't O'Neal's fault no other quality big men are in the game to stop him. Also, Shaq is without a doubt the toughest player in the entire league to referee. What is a block, a charge, was the defender impeding his progress? These are very subjective calls and every fan will see them differently. I think Shaq deserves more credit for the hard work he has put into his game and for the all-around game he now possesses.
Scott Lancaster
San Diego

I just read Royce Webb's "letter to Shaq," and I couldn't agree with him more. He exactly symbolizes what I hate about the NBA today.

Man, if I was that big and mobile for that size, of course I'd dunk on everyone every game. It's easy to make a little hook shot when you're shooting down. And of course, when you initiate the contact and don't get called for offensive fouls every time, it makes it easier. Granted, Shaq is a physical phenomenon, but that's all he is.

I miss the MJ days. I'd rather watch Michael carry a dynasty than watch Shaq and Arrogant Kobe (MJ wannabe) destroy every other franchise just because the rest of the league is watered down.
Fishkill, N.Y.

Wow. Regarding that article on Shaq: Haven't seen that much "whine" come from a California vineyard. Maybe you should contact the Sacramento Kings management for a job. You would fit perfectly under Rick Adelman, who is still whining. Can you tell me how Shaq Daddy keeps knockin' down those free throws, dishin' off to Kobe, and bustin' reverse layups when he has no true baller skills?
San Bernardino, Calif.

Royce Webb just wrote everything I have been saying for years. Shaq is one of the worst fundamental players in the league. He has no range, no dribbling skills, no idea how to play the game within the real rules.

I know most superstar players are allowed certain "privileges" like, say, never being called for a foul, or in the case of Shaq's little buddy Kobe, having opponent's chins foul his precious elbow, i.e. Doug Christie.

I say it's time to start calling the game how it's to be played, within the rules.
Joe Farfsing
Milford, Ohio

That "Open letter to Shaq" was just about the stupidest thing I've ever read (and I frequent Especially that crap about having a "triple advantage" because of his height: Then why aren't Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley mentioned with the 50 greatest NBA players?
Riverside, Calif.

Royce Webb's letter to Shaq might be the least funny thing I've read all year. But hey, it's only June ...
Carl Metz

What next, are you gonna send a letter to Wilt complaining about his size? How about Iverson for being too quick?
Hartford, Conn.

Hear hear!!

It is about time someone stopped the fawning and the raving about this jerk, and told it like it is.

He commits 30 or 40 fouls a game that aren't called, and that is just on the offensive end. In the last game I saw (last Friday), there were at least two times when he stood in the lane with the ball for a couple of seconds, holding the ball in both hands, then jumped into the air, landed (used to be called up-and-down, back in the old days when the referees actually paid attention to the rulebook), and then jumped again to slam it home. And I wasn't even watching very closely.

So there is no telling how many other times he did it. In the NBA Finals, this massive, hard-to-miss, lumbering idiot on several occasions blatantly and obviously broke one of the most basic rules of the game, and got away with it. Disgusting.

I am with you all the way, down with Shaq!
Paul N. Henry

Do you have any choice words for Big George, Wilt, Kareem. (Gee, Vlade was also a Laker center.) I wonder where that puts guys like Oliver Miller, Tractor Traylor, or Stanley Roberts. By the way, I hear the Lakers are considering Jabba the Hut in the second round.
Los Angeles

Royce Webb's column about Shaq being everything that we hate about the NBA is right on! It is excrutiating to watch that mound of Crisco squirm up and down the court. If he even gets there. I can't tell you the number of times I watch to see who the last player is back on defense, and it's always Tub-o. Thank God for Royce Webb finally bad-mouthing Tons of Fun.
Mike Ruvo

WAAAAAAAA! Quit your crying. So what if Shaq is bigger than everybody else? Is that his fault? Is he supposed to not use an advantage? Were you anti-Wilt? Anti-Mikan? I bet you hated that the Celtics won the title so often in the '60s. How dare they have a team loaded with superstars! Were you crying that Rick Barry made too many free throws. Why don't you complain abou the way Iverson takes 35 shots a game, makes 11 and somehow is the league MVP last year? That's a lot uglier than Shaq's game as. So are his tattoos.

As far as Shaq's game ...I guess you don't ever see his turnaround jumpers, the great passes he makes, and the occasional drive up the court. He runs the floor better than just about any center in the league. Oh yeah, it would be nice if Shaq could get to the basket without other centers fouling him as well. It's not just him bumping (which, if he wasn't so huge, you wouldn't be complaining about that anyway) the other guy.

Also,how the @#$%&@ do you know what his stats would be like if he were a 6-1 point guard? His physique would be entirely different. His hands wouldn't be so big, so it would be easier for him to have a better shot, he would be even quicker and more mobile (which in turn would allow him to guard people 15 feet away from the basket).

Last thing ... you say he travels every time. He's not the only one who does that. What about Iverson (or just about any other guard, for that matter) carrying the ball on their hip every time the drive to the hoop? IF you are going to talk about rules, be consistent, please.
Jonathon Moffitt
Lancaster, Calif.

Royce Webb's article about Shaq was absolutely perfect! It's about time someone in the industry stood up to Shaq and let him know how the "real basketball fans" really feel about his game -- or lack thereof. For me, an avid NBA fan, the season ended after Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals (along with my hopes and dreams of an exciting Finals). As much as I love to watch Kobe and Kidd, I just cannot stand to watch Shaq win another MVP award. Thanks again! It's comforting to know that educated fans of the game feel the same way!
Santa Clara, Calif.

I really liked and agree with your article on Shaq. He doesn't do anything wrong, there is no ill will towards him, but HIS game has changed the NBA. It is a game of mutants now.

I loved your comment about Brad Miller. I went to Purdue and I follow Big Ten basketball. Former Big Ten players of the year Bryan Evans and Shawn Respert and other guys of Miller's era (Kiwane Garris, Sam Jacobsen) struggle to find time in the NBA and Brad Miller is a decent starter. He will ALWAYS have a job in the NBA. Do you know why? Because he is 7-1. Bryan Evans could shoot the lights out, but he has no place in the NBA. It is for mutants. A 6-0 guard who can steal, dribble, pass and shoot has no hope or prayer in the NBA.

Good viewpoints!
Mike Reynolds

I just wanted to thank Royce Webb for writing the piece "Don't Let the Door Hit Your Big Butt on the Way Out." Not only did he write everything I (and probably most of the rest of the world, except maybe Shaq) had been thinking, it was also hilarious! Good job buddy, keep up the good work.
Elizabeth Keller
Mineral, Va.

Royce Webb's column on Shaquille O'Neal may be one of the bigger pieces of rubbish I have read on Page 2. Now I am an avid reader of the page and I realize that it is a page for columnists to take a stand, have some fun, and try to prove a point. But this is the worst argument I have seen any columnist anywhere make in a long time.

Does Royce knock Shaq simply for the fact that he is winning? I realize that when you are in a dynasty, you are either loved or hated, and I'm feeling the Laker backlash coming on.

While Jordan had some backlash, he never, ever, ever had an article like that. Partly because he is the best player of all time. Well, I'm sorry, Royce, but Shaq isn't far behind.

First, you argument completely misses the point. It isn't logical at all. How do you fault someone for being tall?!!!! See, Royce, in basketball there are five positions, and each tends to utilize a different size player. Shaq happens to play the center position where the taller players play. Accordingly, he is the best to ever play that position. Ask people who have played basketball at a high level, they will tell you. Don't ask your 40-year-old street ballplayer, ask the best.

And to say Shaq is ruining the game, are you crazy? Was the Kings-Lakers series not one of the best series in a long time? Is the NBA not on the verge of a Renaissance?

Of course, Shaq has some faults -- who in the NBA doesn't? That doesn't mean he's not the best player in the league. Look at it this way, for doing what his position requires, he is by far and away the best. It's as simple as that.

I expect more out of a columnist on Page 2, I really do. Next time think about what you are writing before simply spouting off, because you are tired of the Lakers. This time you are flat-out wrong, and I hate to see arguments that are flat-out wrong.
Kurt Kloeben
Olathe, Kan.

I very much disagree with Mr. Webb's comments in a recent article about Shaq. I think for his size he is very graceful. I don't think he just knocks everyone down (he should be allowed to turn around). He does lower the shoulder at times, and that is a foul for which he should be called. But he does much more than that. Basketball is a contact game.

The thing I hate about the NBA is the ticky-tack fouls. Let the players play. He says the players are too tall. I don't think so. I think there are few plays in basketball more exciting than a dunk, especially when the Big Daddy throws it down.

Shaq is not just big and athletic. He's very skilled and athletic. His best attribute might be his moving without the ball, something not everyone in the NBA knows how to do, and something no one does as well as Shaq. Shaq is also one of the best passing centers.

The refs don't call traveling, that's true, but Kobe travels more than Shaq. Just count in Game 4 tonight, you'll see.

Shaq does not represent everything people hate about the game. Iverson does. Iverson is an actor. Do you think he hits the ground as much as he does because people are just slammin' him? No! He's an actor and a good one, too. He's also a cryer. He cries after every play. Always glaring at the officials for every missed shot. That's what I hate. Just play. Stop acting and crying.

Shaq doesn't do either of the two. He's just the most dominating player, ever, so he doesn't need the theatrics.

Thanks for listening to my tirade. Webb is wrong.
Dennis Allmon
Arlington, Va.

I by no means consider myself a Lakers Fan, and was praying along with many others they would lose to anyone in this year's playoffs.

However, as Mr. Webb would most likely agree -- its tough to beat any team with Shaq on it. That being said, I must add -- Don't Hate, Mr. Webb. I once too was a Shaq hater, but think of this -- successful people of all sizes often credit their success to "doing the best with what talents and characteristics they were given"

Why should Shaq, who was born big -- have to apologize for what God has given him. Instead, he should be applauded for developing skills that would enable him to use his big body to a big advantage. Why would he work on a 15-foot jumper when no one can stop him inside?

Nod your head in approval of Shaq ensuring titles by improving his free throw shooting in the clutch.

If you want to hate -- hate the GM in charge of trading Kobe Bryant to the Lake Show and ensuring this dynasty would develop. The Lakers would not even be as close to as dominant as they are without Shaq and Kobe -- but Shaq is definitely the better role model of the two -- he doesn't complain to referees after every whistle as Kobe does -- he doesn't have a new injury to tell Jim Gray about every game as Kobe does, and the injuries he does have are downplayed for more important issues.

Shaq shouldn't be the least bit tarnished for having no outside game -- when was the last time Allen Iverson was ripped for not being able to score on the block as well as he can off the dribble? Come on,Mr. Webb -- suck it up like the rest of us and endure this dynasty until the NBA title rests in its rightful hands of the New York Knicks.

PS: Layden -- get a freakin' big man.
Halifax, Nova Scotia

It was very amusing, not that Webb had intended it that way. Taking a page from the Sports Guy, it ranked right up there in the Unintentional Comedy scale.

Are you sure that this wasn't Rick Adelman or Mark Cuban writing the article? He sounded like a bitter 4-foot junior high kid who's crying "Not Fair" when he couldn't reach the tether ball at its highest point. I agree with some of his points (e.g. traveling), but that's an issue for the refs. They don't call that for anyone. If they start enforcing it, then he'll adjust.

Some suggestions for Webb's future articles: (1) Get out of the game, Tiger. Your drives are too long, and your scores are too low. (2) Get out of the game, Randy Johnson. You're too tall, and you strike out too many hitters. (3) Get out of the game, Webb. Your complaints are misdirected, and you're not very funny. Drink some milk so you can reach the tether ball next time.

A rational fan of the game.
Derek Pham

Finally, a truthful, comical (if a little biased) look at Shaq. Two thumbs up!

Great article by Royce Webb about Shaq and everything that's wrong with the NBA! I tried hard to get interested in the NBA again, but after watching the Kings-Lakers series in its entirety, I realized that the NBA is an absolute disgrace to this wonderful sport.

I can understand the superstars getting some calls, but since when did that mean that they get to play by a completely separate set of rules? All I can say is that I can't wait for the guys on campus to get to Maui next fall. Maybe then we can see basketball played as it was meant to be played. The Shaq and Kobe Invitational, a.k.a. the NBA playoffs, can't compare to the glory and excitement of March Madness!
Nate Strong
Moscow, Idaho

I hereby nominate Royce Webb for sainthood, and if God even remotely likes basketball, it's a cinch. I'm in such rabid agreement I don't know what to say.
Tom O'Leary
Plymouth, Mich.

Shaq ruin basketball? Please, he hasn't had half the effect on the league that the Knicks have. We now have these teams playing for super-ugly 79-78 wins in which nobody on either team can manage to shoot over 36 percent thanks to the Knicks. And these teams need to read the rule book (like Shaq), as well.

It's so easy to hate Shaq, but he has improved his game much more than most big guys. You say there are about 80 guys in the league over 6-11 -- well, how many of them are averaging over 25 points a game and are a threat to go over 40 points a game? I wonder what Manute Bol's career game high was (or "B-Mill," as you mention Shaq being more like him)? And also get 6 or 7 assists. Also, there's not many 7-footers that look good at the free throw line -- at least Shaq has worked at it and improved to about 65 percent recently. He's also grown up some and actually has poise, and that rubs off on the rest of the team!

And even with all that, if Sacramento could hit a free throw at home, they would be schooling the inspiring, but overmatched Nets instead of the Lakers.

Then there's your ridiculous thing about making Shaq 6-1 but pretending he wouldn't play ball any differently. Come on! He handles the ball the way he does because he's shaped like a mountain! This would be wildly different at 6-1 -- that whole section of your article is nonsense. Oh, I wonder how many 3-pointers Kareem hit ... (or Manute Bol).

Yeah, he's big, but his moves are pretty normal (i.e., most players bump into the defender to try and get closer to the basket), but his have more effect because he's bigger. Get over it. I can just hear this argument applied to football -- Gilbert Brown just pushes people around and destroys your running game. It's no fair and its ruining football! And the Fridge -- thank God he retired -- he brought nothing good to the game!!!

Lastly, if you want to cry foul, I would say complain about the selfish players in the league who can't play with a TEAM like Jason Kidd can. These are the players who have taken the game away -- they want it all for themselves.
Michael Roberts

Wait ... how about this summation: Shaq is big. Shaq does things that are bad. NBA lets Shaq be bad. NBA is bad. Shaq is bad. Shaq should go away. Gee, that sounds just like a story I once read -- Frankenstein's Monster is big. Frankenstein's Monster does things that are bad. Frankenstein let his Monster be bad. Frankenstein is bad. Frankenstein's Monster is bad.

Look, Mr. Royce, the NBA is the godhead of your frivolous venting. You probably know this already. So why pussyfoot around? Stop blaming Canada and point your frustrations at the source.
Los Angeles

I would just like to say thanks to Mr. Royce Webb for having the nerve to come out and say that Shaq is not that good. And that he gets away with everything he does because the officials in the NBA are scared of him and the Lakers.
Patrick McFarland
Stillwater, Okla.

I just wanted to thank Royce Webb for his breakout article about Shaq. I've been on my toes waiting for someone to sound off on that monstrosity of an athlete. I agree that he needs to hang it up ASAP to save a dying game before squads of 2 kiloton sumo wrestlers begin belly flopping the courts.

And if I have to see one more of Shaq's atrocious, eye-numbing free throws, I'm going to hurl all over my TV. I swear I will.

Anyway that's my long and convoluted way of saying, "Thanks for the great article." Although a picture of Shaq with derisive doodling would have also been nice.

People hate the NBA because no one can shoot and the Eastern Conference provides little competition for the West. If you look at what Shaq "gets away with," you can also look at how people hack him all the time. You should know about hacks. You're one yourself.

Go Lakers. Shaq for MVP. Long live O'Neal.
Brian Mullen
San Diego

I would like to thank Royce Webb for his article regarding the "Big Dope," and here I thought I was the only one who could see around the 7-1 no talent fat man's waist. Thank you very much for restoring my faith in SOME of the media. I am so glad to see a sports reporter with a backbone and telling it like it is ... (Howard Cosell would be proud).
Scott Alton
Fulton, N.Y.

A few specific comments on the piece:

1. Yes, Shaq is bigger, taller, stronger and heavier than anyone else in the NBA. That gives him an advantage. Also, Kobe Bryant has better leaping ability, Reggie Miller has incredible proprioception, and Allen Iverson has explosive leg muscles. All of these things give certain players certain advantages -- suggesting a complete reworking of the game to remove one man's advantage in favor of another's is asinine.

2. No, Shaq cannot shoot jumpers, threes, or guard away from the basket. Derek Fisher cannot post up against Vlade Divac. Different players have different abilities -- the fact that Shaq's ability set doesn't include guard-type move is not a weak point, just a difference. Players fill roles, even superstars. And whoever said Shaq could still play if he was 6-1 was wrong; Shaq's size is a prerequisite to his abilities, but they are abilities and talents nonetheless.

3. Yeah, Shaq travels. And until he gets called for it consistently, he will continue to do so, along with about 85 percent of the other players in the NBA. If the refs decide to give Shaq the right to travel by not calling it, he is absolutely right to take advantage of that move in making his game more effective. If they take away the travel, then he'll have to adjust. Try sending the rule book to those who are supposed to enforce it instead of a player who's merely "playing to the officiating."

4. As a matter of fact, I don't like Shaq. I hate the way he is allowed to play, but the Onus you refer to falls on the officials to regulate Shaq's game so that he is penalized for violating the written rules. Until they do, Shaq will continue to use every advantage he can find, just as every good player does. Expecting him to give up substantial advantages out of the goodness of his heart is simply foolish and naive.

You say Shaq is not a great player because he doesn't have what you view as a complete game, and because he takes advantage of referees who are hesitant to make calls against him. In the process, he has garnered championship rings, MVPs, and a reputation as effectively unstoppable. Seems to me that resume makes him a great player, whether he fits your narrow aesthetics or not.
Paul Brewer
Beaverton, Ore.

What the hell is Royce Webb thinking? I am not a fan of Shaq by any means, but P-U-H-L-E-A-A-Z. How do you compare Shaq to a point guard? How do you insinuate that Shaq is not athletic. Never seen a spin move? Maybe Mr. Webb should watch a few more games. I recall seeing a certain 7-1 Laker player running the point on the break, spinning past a defender in the lane, on his way to a layup. Sure, Shaq might not be able to stand outside the arc like numerous centers in the league, but name one player with a low post game like his. The last time I checked, that's what centers were paid to do ... play in the lane.
Shane Adkins
Huntington, W.Va.

Thank you, Royce Webb, for putting everything I think about Shaquille O'Neal into words. He is the poster beast for exactly what is wrong with the NBA, with its boring, isolation basketball. The motion offense is nowhere to be seen. O'Neal has no real basketball skills or abilities, other than the fact that he is a freak. He IS the reason that I do not watch the NBA anymore.
Tom wiley
Kankakee, Ill.

I do believe that Freud has never diagnosed a more open-and-shut case of "little man" syndrome. You must have been the target of many a wedgie in junior high phys ed. Furthermore, your logic was as lame as your forced gangsta lingo. You must have been absent the day they taught basketball in your 'hood.

Your argument was mainly based on the fact that Shaq is not as fast or as good a shooter as point guards. Never mind that he outweighs by 200 pounds the guys with real "skillz" that you mentioned. It's a wonder that he's not as light on his feet as Speedy Claxton. What kind of sense would it make to have Shaq shooting 20-footers, when he can dunk on everyone in the world whenever he wants to. Saying that Shaq has no game because he's not as quick as Iverson is like saying that Barry Bonds has no game because he couldn't strike out Sammy Sosa.

Try comparing players at the same position, genius.

You say that Shaq's too big and strong for the NBA. Is that his fault? You can always move to the next court and get schooled by the 14-year-olds. Where do you suggest that he move up to? Maybe he should give Atlas a break and hold up the Earth for a while. Or maybe he'll just keep winning championship after championship.

There's a word that your gangsta rappa idols throw around: player-hater. It's a guy who hates someone because they have game and he doesn't.
Philip Stagg
Baton Rouge, La.

I must say that Royce Webb's article "Dear Shaq" has been a long time coming. For years the league has allowed Shaq to repeatedly get away with violation after violation in the name of marketing. I am aware that officials have a tremendously difficult job, but the constant whistle-swallowing has to go. It is ruining the game of basketball for the sake of money. The numbers don't lie. In the first three Finals games, the fouls were 7-to-1 (35 to 5) against Shaq's primary defenders (MacCulloch, Williams & Collins.) I am aware that Shaq is better that any of these players, but the discrepancy is ridiculous. As a fan of the game of hoops, it sickens me to see such blatant disregard for the rules. It was bad enough to see MJ get every call, but it has gotten unbearable now. Don't even get me started on those free throws! When he already has such a huge advantage, why give him even more by changing the rules? I think I speak for all fans of basketball (outside of L.A.) when I say, "Amen, Royce Webb. Amen!

p.s. Shaq is 325 pounds about as much as I am two feet tall. Try 360 or 375.
Pete Bulter
Sacramento, Calif.

Maybe Royce Webb should get over Shaq and write about how the East sucks. The playoffs were going great until a team in the Eastern Conference had to play a team from the West. It wouldn't have been any different if Sacramento ... or San Antonio ... or Dallas played the Nets.
Jason Cantor
San Francisco


Webb: Don't let door hit your butt on the way out

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