Who ya got in the NBA Finals?
"I am saying it today and today only. I want kobe bryant to get number four, spread da word."
-- Shaquille O'Neal on his Twitter page
OK, Shaq. You're going to bury the years-old hatchet with Kobe Bryant (who you once called Fredo Corleone) and the Lakers -- the team you won three rings, and your only MVP award, with.
But should you really be dumping the Magic so quickly, Shaq? After all, what did they really do to you? They never traded you. They never picked Penny Hardaway over you (like when Dr. Buss and Phil Jackson picked Kobe over you). They listened to you. They dumped Matt Guokas and brought in Brian Hill for you. They got you Penny Hardaway and gave away Chris Webber to do it; at the time, a risky move. They got you Horace Grant, and his three rings from Chicago, and all this got you to the Finals. OK, so you lost to the Rockets. And it wasn't the Magic's fault that MJ stunk at baseball and came back to lead his team to a 72-10 record.
When you left, you said Hollywood was calling you, but is "Kazaam," "Steel" and "Blue Chips" really a calling? If it is, you should have hung up.
But you go right ahead, Shaq. Root for the Lakers. Root for the team that decided they were done with you (not the other way around).
Fine. We'll just agree to disagree. As far as the rest of us are concerned, there are plenty of factors to consider when making your decision. Allow us to guide you:
1. Notable celebrity fans
Scoop Jackson: Denzel: one name; one man. Trumps everyone in Staples, with the exception of Jack Nicholson. And on the outside (the ones you won't see in Staples) are lifelong fans of the Lake Show, like Ice Cube, Tyra and Jamie Foxx. Then again, Frankie Muniz is part of the celeb LAL famiglia too; minus points on that one. Orlando's claim to celeb fame is
Tiger Woods. That's huge. But people in L.A. will be the first to tell you that Tiger might live in Orlando, but he's from Cali.
Jemele Hill: Orlando can't compete with L.A.'s A-listers, but some celebs live in Orlando and follow the Magic, like Tiger Woods and Chris Tucker. Not quite Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise. I once saw Raven-Symone at a Magic game. Does that count?
Signature city sites
Scoop Jackson: Disney World is hard to beat as a site. Even if that's all Orlando has to offer. L.A. has both sites and spots. Too many to name and claim in this piece. Including the original, Disneyland. But there's an African restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom called Boma that is unlike anything L.A. has to offer. Live animals, exotic wines, remarkable food. Unreal. It might not be on anyone's "signature" list, but it's bucket list-worthy.
Jemele Hill: If you want to wake up the following morning wondering what happened the night before, L.A. is your place. If you want to see 40-year-old men dressed as superheroes and Martians, L.A. is your place. If you want nonstop interaction with your children, then Orlando -- which has Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World -- is where you want to be. But Orlando isn't entirely geared toward kids. If you need a bigger thrill than roller coasters, you can always go to Gatorland zoo, where they feed alligators raw chickens. Or Lakers fans.
Which city would you want to live in?
Scoop Jackson: For some, this is a no-brainer: Orlando 24/7. But me, give me the diversity of Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, the SkyBar in the Mondrian, Undefeated sneaker boutique, Master Burger, Amoeba Music and FatBeats, UCLA, the L.A. Times on Sundays, women that all look like a mix between Adriana Lima, Eva Mendes and Vilayna Lasalle, Magic Johnson's TGIF off La Cienega
and when all else fails you can always go to Shutters on the Beach hotel and experience a side of L.A. (Santa Monica) that you can't get anywhere else in the United States. Yeah, there's a little gang issue, drive-bys, the downtown looks like Detroit, earthquakes happen, you can't tell the difference between the highways and parking lots and the people can be phony and fake as Obama's face on currency
it's still L.A.
Jemele Hill: Four words that make you love Orlando: No. State. Income. Tax. One word to make you avoid L.A.: Earthquakes.
Who would have the better victory parade?
Scoop Jackson: The best parades in L.A. are either in West Hollywood or down Crenshaw (for totally different reasons), but Orlando has never had a parade to celebrate its basketball franchise winning four outta seven in June. And when it comes to professional teams and parades, the first one is always the best. The Lakers have had 14. Another one -- especially without Shaq on the mic, Pat Riley predicting a repeat or Mark Madsen dancing -- in L.A. will be just another day in L.A. Orlando's, on the other hand, would be a parade unlike anything seen in those parts of Florida since, well, Shaq had one a couple of years ago in Miami. Still
Jemele Hill: Assuming everyone in L.A. wasn't tied up with either traffic or Botox treatments, probably L.A. Orlando's downtown area is two blocks, and if the parade was near Disney, the tourists might opt for another trip on Space Mountain, or more specials at the outlet.
Which head coach do you like?
Scoop Jackson: Nine rings/no rings. Zen Master/Panic Master. Dating the boss' daughter/The Boss fired him and took a championship away from him. I failed some classes, but math wasn't one of them. Do the math.
Jemele Hill: The championships make this an unfair fight. Phil Jackson, with nine rings, is the man. But I've got to say that Stan Van Gundy's lack of self-esteem is totally endearing.
Which jersey would you rather be seen in?
Scoop Jackson: It depends. Having a Jameer Nelson jersey this year meant you were the man. Rock it right, they'd let you in the clubs F.O.C. (don't Google it, it's "free of charge"). But owning a Lakers Sunday white authentic put you in an elite category. And if you have one with anyone's name and number besides Kobe, don't be surprised if the manager of the club comps you bottle service for the night.
Jemele Hill: Snoop Dogg and 20 other rappers have worn Lakers jerseys. Ever seen a rapper wear an Orlando jersey?
You have to like [blank] because they got to the Finals with
Scoop Jackson: Has to be Skip to My Lou. The story of Rafer Alston is one of the most fascinating in basketball. A true playground legend. One whose high school career consisted of only three games. In the history of post-1970 basketball, street ball players (real players off neighborhood blocks that don't have prestigious high school, AAU or college careers) don't make it to the League. Politics and structure become roadblocks; misunderstandings and cultural differences become excuses; conditioning and defense become reasons. Yet somehow Alston never became a victim, never made himself out to be one. And here he is. The centerpiece of what might be the most important trade to any team this year. As much as Dwight, Hedo and Rashard are the reasons Orlando's here, if Otis Smith doesn't make that move to get Skip, this team is not here. Period.
Jemele Hill: The weight of a million legacies on Kobe's shoulders. You have to like the Lakers because Kobe Bryant has the misfortune of living in the shadow of three people: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O' Neal and LeBron James. Greatness should be better appreciated.
The all-famous X factor
Scoop Jackson: Amway Arena. Its days are numbered. By the fall of next year one of the most beautiful structures in professional sports will be replaced like a cell phone. The four-tier water "fountain" at the entrance of the stadium is something you'd expect to find at the Reunion Resort, not a 17,000-seat stadium. The place doesn't have much history, so it needs something historic to happen in it before it becomes history. And with Boston coming back next year full clipped; the Cavs coming back looking for revenge and vengeance, and better (don't be surprised if Carlos Boozer or Amare Stoudemire or someone on that level is in a Cleveland uniform this time next year); and with the Bulls not being upstarts anymore, there's no guarantee that Amway will be a co-host next year. So before it says goodbye, it's going to have something to say.
Jemele Hill: Joey Fatone and the IRS. Can Fatone, an Orlando resident, convince Justin Timberlake to stop rooting for the Lakers and join Orlando, since this is the city that gave him his start? And can the IRS back off Orlando native Wesley Snipes for a few minutes so he can show some Magic pride?
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com. Jemele Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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