The End Of Shaq Is Nigh

We couldn't have been more thoroughly depressed by last night's Lakers-Heat matchup, otherwise known as Shaq-Kobe II (or IV, or whatever). Aside from the much-heralded but mostly boring "peace accord" between Shaq and Kobe, and aside from the game itself (the Lakers finally beat Shaq), we were downright devastated by those shenanigans between Shaq and Lakers teenager Andrew Bynum.

If you didn't see it on "SportsCenter" this morning, Bynum, getting a few minutes because former Illini Brian Cook was T'd up twice and ejected, made a spin move on Shaq and dunked on him. It was impressive, in a fluky sort of way, and seemed destined for one of those stories Bynum would tell his grandchildren 50 years from now (or, say, 15). But then Bynum, for whatever reason, decided to bump Shaq on the way back down the floor, showboat-style. What happened next was the most depressing part.

Shaq, realizing he had to do something, limply shoved Bynum backwards and jawed a bit before, of all people, Kobe stepped between the two. Now. There was a time when all college (or high school) players considering the NBA would ask themselves, "Can I imagine going up against Shaq? Would he completely destroy me?" and that would let them know whether they were even close to ready. Today, the youngest guy in the league — perhaps the youngest guy in league history — open attacks him and makes an ass out of him on national television. This is Shaq, people! Shaquille O'Neal is dangerously close to being like that old golden retriever your parents don't want to have put to sleep yet because they remember how much he meant to them, and the rest of the league is like the puppy they bought to help them adjust when the old dog eventually has to go down. We had been denying this fact to ourselves until last night. We can't anymore.

Kobe Vs. Shaq, Part IV [20 Second Timeout]