Over the All-Star weekend, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, the cape wearing, tall building bounder, slam dunk champion was rendered powerless by the kryptonite carrying, Lex Luther disguised villain in Nate Robinson. Soaring to incredible heights, performing mind-boggling feats of super-human strength and agility, the defender of the free world was nonetheless subdued by a mere mortal. A 5’6″ fireplug who managed to pull off the unthinkable. Howard remains one of the most energetic and powerful dunkers around, and nine times out of 10, he will prevail, but for one night he was hapless in defending his title. Nate Robinson literally leapt over Howard and slammed home the blow that dealt Superman his defeat. When Nate Robinson dunked while leaping over Spud Webb a few years back, that was kind of cute. It was like watching pee-wee basketball on an 8-foot court. But what Robinson accomplished on Saturday was incredible. I was expecting him to climb up Howard’s back and try some sort of less than imaginative dunk. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect him to not only scale Mt. Everest, but to also conquer it. Image Dwight Howard slamming the ball while leaping over Shaq… impossible right?
Fast forward to Sunday’s game… Howard is isolated and defending none other than the original Man of Steel, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq and Howard appear to be trash-talking when suddenly Shaq passes the ball deftly between Howard’s legs, sprints around baseline, receives the feed back from Chris Paul, and slams home a thunderous jam, leaving an embarrassed Howard in his wake. YouTubed. Posterized. Top-Ten’ed. Dwight Howard, aka Superman, quickly left Phoenix following the game and returned to Orlando as mild mannered Clark Kent, cape neatly folded and tucked away in his carry-on baggage on his domestic flight back home.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
Shaq’s performance (17 points, dance competition and swimsuit) persuaded enough writers (thank god I’m a blogger) to award him Co-MVP honors along with Kobe Bryant, who finished the game with 27 points, clearly the dominant and logical choice in the West’s lopsided win over Lebron, D-Wade and the other East cohorts. Proclaiming the Kobe-Shaq Lovefest officially over, Commissioner David Stern presented the trophy to the two former teammates. Kobe endured the media hype, controlled his yawns, and most importantly, represented himself well. Now he returns as the clear leader of a team with the best record in the league, with a rejuvenated super-charged offense, and a rededicated commitment to defense. Shaq, on the other hand, returns to a Suns team that is currently out of the playoffs and uncertain of its next personnel moves, with an interim coach with clear marching orders to return to the run-and-gun style that conflicts with the pound-it-into-the-middle style that suited him so well this season. As Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers sprint towards the finish line in quest of the ultimate goal, Shaquille O’Neal and his Phoenix Suns are left behind with much more to ponder. For one night, they were a 1-2 knockout punch again. But today they are polar opposites heading in completely different directions. Call it reciprocity or karma. Or simply call it Kryptonite.