Friday, June 3, 2011

Shaquille O'Neal made a logical decision when he pursued basketball as his chosen profession, but with his superhuman size and strength, the just-retired NBA great could probably have excelled at any number of other sports had he taken a different path.
At 7 feet, one inch tall and 325 pounds, it's not difficult to envision Shaq terrorizing opposing quarterbacks as a defensive lineman in football, or bringing some serious heat a la Randy Johnson or CC Sabathia as a baseball pitcher. With proper training, O'Neal's enormous strength and reach provided him with considerable potential as a formidable foe in the boxing ring. And if he'd grown up in North Bay or Terrebonne instead of New Jersey and Texas, hockey coaches would have been clamoring to recruit a would-be power forward who'd have made Milan Lucic look like Kjell Dahlin.
But size also has its disadvantages in the athletic arena, and there are several sports that pose seemingly insurmountable difficulties for someone of Shaq's physical stature. Thoroughbred jockey and race car driver are only the most obvious examples. As agile as he is for a big man, O'Neal would have been relatively hopeless at a number of Olympic disciplines, including pole vaulting, cycling, equestrian, rythmic dancing and ski jumping, which can be especially unforgiving for someone with the aerodynamic properties of an anvil.
As always, though, you can't measure determination and desire. An individual as driven as Shaq might have surprised us all by making a go of something that doesn't cater to his natural athletic advantages or talent. Anyone who can't sing or act but has 5 CD's and 11 movies to his credit is not to be underestimated.

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