The NBA continued to find ways to celebrate its 75 years of existence last night in Cleveland as All-Star Weekend festivities hit a crescendo with the introduction of the league's 75 greatest players. Shaquille O'Neal, working the game for Turner, was feted along with his colleague Charles Barkley and 73 others. The big man expounded upon his journey in a monologue that showcased that, when he wants to be, there's no one better on the microphone.
O'Neal ticked through a list of people who helped him become what he became. It was honest as hell. It's the type of speech only someone who has done the intense work of self-inventory can deliver. O'Neal was gifted with incredible physical gifts. And yet it clearly took a village of supporters to help lift him to the place he arrived.
He also lamented that his father, sister, and Kobe Bryant could not be there to celebrate the moment with him. It was vulnerable and real and made more so because he was speaking to his broadcasting family, which has been yet another powerful influence in his life.
Easy to be happy for Shaq, even if he does only seem to trend for frustrating reasons lately. And good to be reminded about the fuller picture of one of sports' most intriguing athletes of the past 75 years.