November 15, 2002

Speak for Yourself

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“It was a team effort. Everyone played well.” said head coach [fill in name here].

“We’ll take it one game at a time. We can’t focus on the entire season,” said captain [fill in name here].

“The individual accomplishments don’t mean anything if we can’t win a championship,” said star player [fill in name here].

You’ve seen these quotes before. They’re the same platitudes that coaches and athletes at all levels love to regurgitate to the media. They are entirely devoid of personality and character, because they have been overused until readers and listeners simply gloss over them without giving them a second — or even first — thought.

They’re awful.

There’s a reason people like Shaquille O’Neal, and it’s not because he dominates a game like no other. It’s because he has charisma. This guy asked to be known as “Wilt Chamberneezy.” When the man gets behind a microphone, nobody knows what he’s going to say.

In 1999, the man who also calls himself the Big Aristotle said, “I’m like the Pythagorean theorem. Not too many people know the answer to my game.”

As hilarious as that is, Shaq still hasn’t mastered basic geometry, because this summer, he again said, “There is no answer for the Pythagorean theorem.”

The point is, he doesn’t graciously and mindlessly say that he can be defended. He is confident in his abilities and says so, even if he doesn’t exactly sound as though he should be called Aristotle. The bottom line: He does not use clich