Tuesday, December 10, 2002
NEXT: The Shaq-O-Lytes
By By Andy Latack
If you've read the sports pages lately, you might think the world's invaded by Shaquille O'Neal clones. Big-pawed preschoolers terrorizing the Nerf rim, ponderous preps with shoe sizes twice their age -- yep, the "Baby Shaq" tag gets tossed around like Dikembe Mutombo in the 2001 Finals. Never mind that so much baby talk can be a curse. (Remember Harold Miner, a.k.a. Baby Jordan?) Or that the Big Fella himself seems dubious about the moniker: "I'm like an unconceptual, preconceptual lunar moon. I only come around once every 115 years." Back on planet Earth, we tracked down some of his namesakes anyway -- you know, to see how they measure up.
Sophocles and Gillian have just the feet to fill those big shoes of the Big Aristotle.
6'9", 280 pounds, 17 years old
Iraklis Salonica, Greek Pro League BIG DEAL He's named after the Greek play-wright, who was kind of like the Big Aristotle of his time. Soph dunked on Gheorghe Muresan in a recent game against the Romanians. Shaq cleaned his teeth with Gheorghe Muresan. BIG DIFF Schortsianitis, a Tim Duncan fan, is eyeing the 2004 draft. The first Greek baller to make the NBA: 7'2" Suns C Jake Tsakalidis. But "Baby Jake" doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents.
6'7", 180 pounds, 19 years old
Arkansas-Fort Smith Junior College BIG DEAL She was all set to play at UConn, but first she needs to get her grades up while sitting out this season. Huskies coach Geno Auriemma once called her "a female Olajuwon." Close enough. BIG DIFF "People think I look like Lisa Leslie," Goring says. "I like that better than Baby Shaq. Lisa's a model." What about Shaq's looks? "He's awesome on the court."
6'8", 227 pounds, 15 years old
Santa Fe High School, Edmond, Okla. BIG DEAL He's been hearing "Baby Shaq" since he was a wee 6'4" fourth-grader. Today the frosh spends his free time scrimmaging against OK State's Frans Steyn, a 7'2", 306-pound Shaq wannabe. BIG DIFF Haymaker's also working on his outside game. "I want to be someone who can do it all," he says. Besides, when your handle's as solid as "Mountain Drew," who needs another one?
6'10", 290 pounds, 18 years old
Ozen High School, Beaumont, Texas BIG DEAL Arguably the best Texas prep since The Diesel himself, Perkins could go
No.2 behind fellow teen LeBron James in next June's NBA draft. BIG DIFF He's actually more Shaqlike than Shaq was at this age. "Kendrick's already a legit 5-man," says coach Andre Boutte. "In high school, Shaq was more of a 3-4 who ran the floor. He wasn't a brute yet."
6'9", 285 pounds, 14 years old
St. Patrick High School, Elizabeth, N.J. BIG DEAL He was "only" 5'4" in fifth grade, then shot up 17 inches in three years. After dwarfing eighth-graders last season, Caracter outplayed kids three years older at July's Nike Camp. BIG DIFF He has a smooth J and prefers facing the basket to banging on the block.
His favorite NBA character is Dirk Nowitzki. Says Derrick: "I hope I'm done growing."
15 hands, 3" (5'3" to the top of his shoulder), 1,100 pounds, 5 years old
Aqueduct Racetrack, Jamaica, N.Y. BIG DEAL Not quite. Though he posted two first-place finishes in 12 races this year, his career purse is a modest $138,432. BIG DIFF The real Shaq makes $156,412 for every shot he blocks. "The horse is a little bit on the small side," says trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. "And he doesn't have a lot of personality." Sounds more like Baby Stockton. AARON LOCK
4'10", 61 pounds, 6 years old
Tyler Run Elementary, Powell, Ohio BIG DEAL Kid's got height and hoops in his genes. Dad Rob Lock (6'10") balled for Kentucky. Mom Valerie Still (6'2") is UK's all-time leading scorer and a former Washington Mystic. Uncle Art Still (6'7") played defensive end in the NFL. BIG DIFF Aaron's more interested in soccer, hockey and piano -- maybe because Mom, now an assistant with the Orlando Miracle, brings him on the road. "He's around basketball so much," she says, "I think it annoys him."