Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Shaq's Last Hurrah

Today's Calls: Shaq vs. Kobe, Matt Kenseth vs. Kyle Busch, Duke vs. BC, Kevin Durant's HORSE vs. AI's hair, A-Rod vs. Oil Can Boyd and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Last night felt like a last hurrah for Shaq. ↵

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↵The nostalgia-heavy "Co-MVP" award for him and Kobe was just the capper. Shaq had me at his pre-game intros, when he put on a wild dancing spectacle with the JabbaWockeeZ. Has there ever been a 7-foot, 300-pound athlete who could shake and move like Shaq? ↵

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↵Then, despite playing only 11 minutes -- which, as Phil Jackson said, has to be some kind of record for an MVP in an All-Star Game -- he stole the game's spotlight from the young players like LeBron or CP3 or even Kobe. ↵

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↵17 points on 8/9 FG (+21 plus-minus), including several classic Shaq slams, along with one very amusing through-his-legs pass on Dwight Howard. For all of Howard's playful personality -- on display during the Slam Dunk Contest -- Shaq showed who the NBA's once and only "Superman" really is. ↵

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↵Despite Shaq's return to All-Star status -- King of the All-Stars, actually -- his championship times are behind him. That's what last night's dream "Marvel Team-Up" between Kobe and Shaq left me feeling. ↵

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↵The Suns are rebuilding. They have fired their coach. They are about to trade away the team's youngest and most promising foundation. Shaq deserves better. ↵

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↵If last night made us appreciate him one last time on a national stage -- reminded us of just what an overwhelming force of personality and talent he is -- Shaq really was the big winner last night. ↵

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↵Daytona 500: What is more unsatisfying -- a D-500 cut short nearly 25 percent from rainy weather or a big, avoidable wreck (thanks to Dale Jr.) that takes out plenty of would-be competitors for the title? ↵

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↵There is a pretty good argument to be made that Matt Kenseth didn't win the Daytona 500 so much as Kyle Busch was denied. ↵

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↵CBB Weekend: What did we learn? That BC has checked the boxes for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee when it comes to "quality wins" -- first they derail the "unbeaten-season" UNC bandwagon; last night, they beat Duke for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. (Sorry, BC fans: I think it says more about Duke's overratedness than it does your underratedness.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile: ↵

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↵• We already knew Clemson was overrated. ... ↵

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↵• Is Butler just trying to play possum in advance of the NCAA Tournament or something? ... ↵

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↵• Arizona will be one of the Top 5 toughest choices on your bracket in March. ... ↵

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↵• Why Blake Griffin is the leading candidate for national POY. ... ↵

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↵• Ack: Stephen Curry! Keep an eye on that ankle. ↵

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↵Tonight: Pitt at UConn. Based on the Huskies' problems shaking off Seton Hall, they are obviously missing Dyson -- I think Pitt comes into Hartford tonight and stakes its claim as the team to beat, not just in the Big East, but in the nation. ↵

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↵NBA All-Star Weekend Rewind: Other than the Shaq/Kobe theatrics, the game itself was a dud ... Between Kevin Durant's Rookie Challenge explosion (46!) and his HORSE title, the biggest winner of the weekend behind Shaq was KD. ... I loved Nate Robinson's "Lex Luthor" routine, but he would have never won without Dwight Howard being a good enough sport to let Robinson dunk over him. ... I think the 3-point contest might be dead. ↵

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↵H-O-R-S-E Update: I went into the weekend with such high hopes for the H-O-R-S-E competition. Instead, it was a flop -- charitably, I'll say there is plenty of room for improvement next year. The players didn't make many "trick" shots (hey: even I could take trick shots and MISS them), the event felt like it was dragging, and ultimately, Durant settled for yawning standard 3-pointers to come from behind to win. Next year: Let a fan participate; they might just win. ↵

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↵Allen Iverson cuts off his cornrows: It tells you how defining AI's hairstyle was when its radical change drives as much interest as his did. Personally, I love it -- it reminds me of his tantalizing college career at Georgetown. (The true test: How many young players with cornrows -- NBA, college, prep -- will cut their hair, too?) ↵

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↵MLB: What's the chance that the cranks who populate the BBWAA will listen to Hank Aaron? ↵

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↵Spring Training: It will be hard for any Spring Training detail to dislodge this one as zaniest -- would-be Padres closer Heath Bell got in shape this offseason ... using the Wii Fit. ↵

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↵A-Rod Scandal, Cont'd: A-Rod almost flawlessly pulled off his "Sorry" spectacle last weekend with Peter Gammons. The one false note: His angry riff on Selena Roberts, who broke the "A-Roids" story. With yet another apology -- this time, to her -- he feels in the clear on this. ↵

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↵Tomorrow's A-Rod news conference: Joe Girardi will be there. My question: Will team "captain" Derek Jeter be there to support his teammate? ↵

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↵Unretirements: If you saved a roster space on your fantasy keeper team for Oil Can Boyd all these years, your dedication might just pay off. ↵

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↵CFB: Like to chuckle at Charlie? Love to loathe Lane? Plenty to keep you busy this past weekend. ↵

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↵NFL: I wouldn't expect Marshawn Lynch to be playing a full season in 2009. ↵

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↵Well, we've got our Absurd NFL Offseason Story of the Year covered. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "It felt like old times. I miss those times." -- Shaq ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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