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Shaq’s Ball in Lakers’ Court : More Magic Here Than in Orlando

When a tipster called to say he saw Shaquille O’Neal having lunch Thursday with Nick Van Exel of the Lakers, my heart went pitter-pat.

I didn’t know if it was true. I didn’t know what it would mean, other than they were hungry.

But I would have loved to be a fly on that tablecloth.

Nick: “Come play with us.”

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Shaq: “OK. Pass the salt.”

My mouth watered. The image of Shaq becoming a Laker made my day, week, month, year. He would be absolutely perfect for Southern California, although very few of us here use salt.

I couldn’t confirm the lunch, but I do know Shaq was in town Friday to promote his new summer Disney flick, “Kazaam,” in which he plays a rap-singing magic genie.

And I also know that the Orlando Magic missed him at their Wednesday season-ending farewell, which Shaq skipped, same way Van Exel skipped L.A.'s.

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Shaq’s leaving the Magic for the no-Magic Lakers would be a natural move, so I hope he makes it.

If he can’t win an NBA championship with Penny Hardaway at the point and Horace Grant under the hoop, the time has come for Shaq Daddy to try to win one somewhere else.

Like, here.

Go west, young Shaq. Go west.

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Orlando isn’t happening. You don’t want to live on a golf course, Shaq. You want to live here in L.A., which, unlike Florida, stays open after 11 p.m.

Orlando’s team is about as good as it is going to get, but still keeps getting broomed from the playoffs like an octopus on a hockey rink.

Whereas, the Lakers are one Super-Center away from beating Seattle’s or Utah’s brains out, and Shaq is just the man with the “S” insignia to do it. Stay tuned for the New Adventures of Lois and Shaq, right here in Hollywood.

He becomes a free agent July 1, and the Lakers have a few bucks to spend on free agents. They finally stopped paying James Worthy, Magic Johnson and other people who retired long ago. I’m pretty sure they’re still paying Elgin Baylor.

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But don’t make this about money, Shaq. Money, you’ve got.

You have “Kazaam,” coming soon to a Magic Johnson Theater near you. You have your platinum-sale recordings, which you could perform here at the House of Blues, whereas the only nightclub Orlando has is the House of Mouse. Florida has a theme park. Los Angeles is a theme park.

Orlando’s idea of entertainment after dark is Denny’s.

Shaq could have such fun here. Van Exel could pass to him, Anthony Peeler could shoot over him, Eddie Jones could drive around his picks and Cedric Ceballos could introduce him to water sports.

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Furthermore, those Orlando reporters are the worst, man. So negative.

Orlando’s media are the type that would accuse Penny Hardaway’s puppet of having termites.

Here in California, we have friendly media. Compared to New York’s, we are like little puppies, rubbing up against your leg.

If Shaq misses a few free throws, so what? I personally would congratulate him on getting fouled.

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Let’s invite Shaq to L.A.

We need him. We need him like Flipper needs fish. The Lakers are our most interesting team, but the one thing lacking in the Lakers is an agreement on which player would be the go-to guy. Well, if you want a better deal, go to Shaq. If you want to win a title, go to Shaq.

Shaq would look good in gold and purple. That Orlando uniform looks like something Bozo would wear on his day off. I’ve seen better looking outfits on French poodles.

Would he be disloyal, leaving?

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Hey, O’Neal doesn’t owe Orlando anything. He didn’t choose Orlando. Orlando chose him. He was drafted there. He had no choice, other than to go play in Greece or someplace. Nobody in the NBA would hold it against him, crossing his arms like a genie and telling Orlando: “Kazaam! I’m gone!”

And if you need one last reason, Shaq, to sign with L.A., consider this:

We’re in the Western Conference.

Therefore, you could play against Michael Jordan and the Bulls not for some conference championship, but for the championship.

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Think about it, man.

Let’s do lunch.


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