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It's good riddance 2 U, Shaq

Driving from my college class toward home, I always pass a billboard for Universal Studios Florida. The billboard has a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger, advertising the park's new Terminator 2 3-D feature.

(As an aside, aren't there too many digits in that title? But I suppose that's better than what they did with the sequels to the movie First Blood.)

I caught T2 3-D (sounds like a Prince song, doesn't it? Like I Would Die 4 U? Only his name isn't Prince anymore; it's a symbol that represents something like The Artist Who Prefers To Use Numerals Or Single Letters to Words) a couple of months ago, and it was almost as good as all of the hype suggested.

Even better than the feature itself _ and this is an area in which Universal Studios seems to excel _ is the entertainment provided while waiting to get into the attraction itself. In addition to wonderfully ominous faux media coverage of _ and commercials for _ the fictional futuristic corporate giant Cyberdyne Systems, there's a short film preceding the main attraction.

(Getting back to that First Blood thing, you see, the second film in the series was named Rambo: First Blood Part II.)

The film is a promotional spiel for Cyberdyne Systems, heavily laden with irony as Cyberdyne attempts to convince the viewer that its intention to control the world is in the best interests of the citizenry. Several of Cyberdyne's products are shown, including one where a robotic eye helps a basketball player shoot a perfect free throw. In real life, a local kid plays the basketball player.

He is Shaquille O'Neal.

You were wondering where this was going, right?

(So anyway, Rambo: First Blood Part II does much better than the first film, right? So the film company want to make another sequel. But they want to use the word Rambo in it, and make it clear it's a sequel to the second movie, so what do they call it? Rambo II: First Blood Part III?)

Yes, it's Shaq, adorned in that familiar blue and white No. 32 jersey, finally sinking a free throw with a robotic eye in a hilarious in-joke that sets the crowd into hysterics.

Well, if you haven't seen it yet, it won't throw you into hysterics, because I just ruined the surprise.

(No, they call it Rambo III. Where do they get that from? Did I miss Rambo II? How do you jump straight from Rambo to Rambo III?)

However, I figure they're not going to be using the Shaq portion much longer anyway _ at least not in its current form. They'd have to change the jersey to purple and gold _ or yellow, which is what it looks like to me, but you know how these teams refer to yellow as "gold."

Shaq is now a Laker.

At the time I saw T2 3-D, I never pondered whether Shaq got paid for his presence in the film. I just figured it was something done in good humor for a neighbor, a self-deprecating joke that proved Shaq was a decent guy.

Now, I can't help but think that he must have gotten paid. And that whatever his fee was, it probably was inconsequential to him next to the fact he was in a movie (of a sort) that would be seen by millions of people _ as opposed to Kazaam, that is.

Shaq is star-struck, and the star he's struck on is himself. Maybe he's right when he says it's not the money. I somewhat agree. It's not the money, but the way of life he can buy with the money. It's living in the land of Hollywood. It's being the enormous fish in an increasingly shallow pond.

Just one thing, Shaq:

Kazaam sucked. Your $123-million just bankrupted your own team, which not only can no longer afford a bench _ as in reserve players _ it can't afford a bench, as in that thing you park your massive butt on in the big games.

Oh, yeah. And the Magic went 13-1 without you this year. See ya, Shaq. Good riddance.

Next week: Rick tries to figure out what was up with ID4. When did ID3 come out? Or ID2? Were they any good?