John Smallwood: Do as he says, not as he did

Dwight Howard (left), clowning with Shaquille O'Neal at 2007 All-Star practice, could follow his lead in abandoning Orlando.
Dwight Howard (left), clowning with Shaquille O'Neal at 2007 All-Star practice, could follow his lead in abandoning Orlando. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: February 16, 2012

IN MY Small opinion, former NBA star and budding TV analyst Shaquille O'Neal might have simply used the wrong word.

After all, "travesty" and "tragedy" do sound a lot alike. I can see how someone could easily say one while meaning the other.

So if Shaq meant to say on a conference call this week that it would be a "tragedy" if Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard did indeed leave the city for a brighter NBA spotlight, that's fine.

He's entitled to his opinion.

But O'Neal did not say "tragedy." He said, "If [Howard] leaves, it'll be a travesty."

If the big fella did indeed mean to say that, he's still entitled to his opinion, but it would be oozing with hypocrisy.

Nearly 16 years ago, O'Neal bailed out on Orlando, moving to the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent a season after leading the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals.

It devastated the franchise, so Shaq knows all about causing "tragedy" throughout central Florida.

Then again, since the definition of travesty is "any grotesque or debased likeness or imitation," Shaq might just consider Howard an inferior copycat of himself, the original Superman of the NBA.

Still, it sure sounds like he's trying to rewrite history.

O'Neal said he wanted to stay in Orlando and signed with LA only because it offered a better option.

Exactly.

Los Angeles over Orlando is not a difficult choice.

However, Brooklyn or Dallas over Orlando isn't a difficult choice, either, and those are the destinations, along with LA, where Howard has indicated he wants to go.

Shaq, who won three titles with the Lakers, got his by leaving Orlando. Why shouldn't Howard get his? . . .

I like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. He's the type of fully committed owner I'd want for my team.

But Cuban has a tendency to talk out of both sides of his neck.

Early this week, Cuban, who vocally protested the trade that would have sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the league-owned New Orleans Hornets to the Lakers, said the league still made a bad deal when it sent Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Basically, Cuban reiterated his claim that the NBA lockout was about making it possible for teams - particularly small-market teams - to keep their own stars.

"I don't think it was about which team," Cuban said. "I think it was the fact that, even with the Clippers, we just went through this whole [collective bargaining agreement] and said the incumbent team still has the advantage and then the team the league owns [wimps] out, and look how it's worked out for them."

Since Howard, like Paul did, is trying to use his impending free agency as leverage to force a trade out of small-market Orlando, I think Cuban, out of the same principle he wanted used in New Orleans, should eliminate Dallas as a landing spot for Howard even though Howard has said the Mavericks are one of his preferred destinations.

Come on, Mark, put your franchise's future where you say your principles are . . .

I'm as sensitive to discrimination as anyone, but I find it amazing that one descriptive adjective is threatening to cripple the English national soccer team on the eve of the European Championships.

I doubt Chelsea defender John Terry knew what collateral damage he would create when he placed the word "black" in front of an expletive aimed at Queens Park Ranger Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match in October.

Had Terry, for example, just called Ferdinand a "bastard," it likely would have just been dismissed as emotions of the game.

But if he called him a "black bastard," that apparently changes everything. (The word wasn't "bastard," by the way.)

For using "black" before the insult, Terry was charged with a misdemeanor of racially abusing Ferdinand.

He will actually go on trial for it.

When that trial was postponed until after Euro 2012, the English Football Association decided to strip Terry of his captaincy.

Out of protest, England coach Fabio Capello, who said no decision about Terry should be made until innocence or guilt is proven, resigned his position . . .

If you think match-fixing is a real concern in sport, look at soccer.

FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, estimates that there are from $5 billion to $15 billion in profits each year from manipulating matches throughout the sport. Worldwide, it is estimated that soccer generates $500 billion in bets from legal and illegal wagering.

Turkey is the latest professional league to get hit. Legendary Turkish League club Fenerbahce has been barred from the European Champions League because of its alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal last season, which included 14 players in the 93 charged in the conspiracy.

Match-fixing scandals affected leagues in Turkey, Italy, Israel, Finland and Greece last season. There also were reported incidents in Asia and Africa . . .

Finally, if a rumor reported by ESPN radio host Stephen A. Smith is correct, the Los Angeles Lakers and the nearly forgotten Allen Iverson have shown some level of mutual interest.

Imagine if The Answer signed on and the Lakers went on to win the NBA championship.

How would Philly feel about its adopted son, Iverson, needing its dismissed son, Kobe Bryant, to carry him to his first championship since high school?


Send email to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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