With the opening of Wesley Snipes’ latest flick, Blade II, almost upon us (yes, I can’t contain myself either...), I began to realize that the movie’s producers missed out on a surefire hit. Imagine an actor just as talented as Snipes (a rare breed), but with a bit more flare for the dramatic. Now simply invert his skin color, add nine inches and a beard fit for a hobo, and you have the star for a can’t-miss thriller: Vlade II.
Thankfully for Snipes, Vlade has decided to supplement his acting with a bit of basketball and has (so far) shied away from the silver screen. Divac, now in his 46th season in the NBA, stood toe-to-toe with the league’s most dominant player and didn’t give an inch. Not until Shaq touched him, at least. At that point, he went hurtling backwards as if Kazaam himself had sent the little lightning bolts out of his hands (don’t tell me I was the ONLY person who watched the movie).
Don’t get me wrong, I was pulling for the ragin’ Croatian. I feel Shaq makes a mockery of the NBA’s ridiculously lax officiating. When Shaq bowled over David Robinson a la Bo Jackson against Brian Bosworth, something inside of me said, “Do the refs’ whistles just taste good, or do they actually intend on blowing them at some point?” In fact, you can find every single one of Shaq’s low-post moves in his stellar Super Nintendo effort, Shaq Fu. Every move, including the right elbow to the nose, the left elbow to the nose, and any combination thereof, is in the game. Believe me, I rented it.
Needless to say, the Divac-O’Neil match-up had unlimited potential. Since Shaq’s defenders generally fall unintentionally, Vlade figured to hit the floor upwards of 270 times during the course of the series. Divac delivered. Every time the Lakers dumped the ball into Shaq, the three-second count was on – Vlade was guaranteed to fall over within the next three seconds. Vlade’s reactions to the officiating may have been even more stirring. My personal favorite was after he fouled out of game 7 on a loose ball foul (which was a bad call); he executed the “stop-drop-and-roll” fire safety technique to perfection, while throwing in a facial expression I can’t even begin to describe. Only Derrick Zoolander’s “Magnum” look can top it.
Shaq essentially dominated the match-up from a basketball point of view, but we’re here to talk about the NBA, not basketball. Late in the series, Chris Webber decided he wanted the task of guarding Shaq for himself. Seriously, Chris, we don’t want to see you guard Shaq. Go call a timeout or something. The fans want Vlade.
There are certain things in life you can never get enough of: Riptide Rush Gatorade, Nappy Roots’ “Aww Naw,” and Vlade Divac. I wished a bittersweet goodbye to Vlade as the Lakers’ predictably prevailed in overtime of game 7. The question of retirement certainly warrants mentioning at this point. The time is now for Vlade to make a choice between acting and basketball. Come on, Vlade. The silver screen awaits.