August 16, 2010
No matter how absurd, tone-deaf or haphazardly thrown together ESPN's LeBron James(notes) free-agency special "The Decision" was — and it was all three in abundantly copious amounts — it was also very, very successful. The show raised nearly $2.5 million dollars in charity for the Boys and Girls Club of America, and it was watched by nearly 10 million people. Yeah, that's a success, ladies and germs.
However, there was one big demographic missing from the overnight ratings for the hour-long extravaganza. And when I say "big," I mean it both in the "colossally huge" sense and in the "lots of nicknames involving the word" sense because Shaquille O'Neal(notes) was not interested in watching his former teammate's vanity project. This comes from an interview with the New York Times' Deborah Solomon done last week. If you've seen it, I apologize but I don't feel that bad about it.
Did you watch along with the rest of the world when he monopolized ESPN for a night to announce where he was going?
No, I didn't. One, I was with the kids, and two, I didn't know it was going to be on TV.
I didn't watch it, either.
That's because you're mature and you're my age and we have a different mind-set.
Let us unpack this like we are returning from a week-long trip to New York City followed immediately by a bachelor party in Wisconsin.
Shaquille O'Neal did not watch LeBron James' television show because he has a different mind-set. Assumedly, that "different mind-set" is that of an older, more mature person who should not be concerned with displays of ego by 25-year-olds. Despite the fact that:
a) Shaquille O'Neal has adopted a public persona based around a cartoon character and even has a tattoo of this cartoon character's logo. Futhermore, he has engaged in public disputes about the co-opting of this persona by younger players.
b) Shaquille O'Neal solicited nicknames for himself after joining the Boston Celtics.
c) Shaquille O'Neal stars in a television show that features him competing in tasks against various experts that often ends with O'Neal being forced to suffer some humiliation, such as walking the beach in a pink speedo.
e) A thousand other things that kids do.
I am not calling Shaquille O'Neal a liar, liar, pants-on-fire, but if he's trying to say he didn't watch "The Decision" because he is too mature for it, then he is probably not exactly thinking about things the right way. It was probably more that he was chilling with his kids, which is way more fun/important/worthwhile/fulfilling/not boring than actually watching the show. That is a way more reasonable explanation.
That being said, if Shaquille O'Neal truly didn't watch "The Decision" because he is too much of a grown-up to be interested, then I feel really bad about myself for having watched it twice (once for the show, once for the quotes). Thanks for nothing, LeBron.