Daniel Fierman
March 10, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

It always drops jaws. I’ll be at home, chillin’, watchin’ the Lakers, drinkin’ a Bud, and it slips out: ”Hey, you know what’s a damn fine film? Blue Chips.” First, there’s stunned silence. Then, testy insults. Finally, excuses about laundry are deployed and I’m left alone watching the game, relieved that no one caught the copy of Shaq Fu: da Return on my CD shelf, or the Kazaam tape peeking out of the VCR. Well, I’m going on record here — I don’t see what’s so freaking bad about the Renaissance man that is Shaquille O’Neal. Take 1994’s Blue Chips: Shaq’s searing turn as Neon, the straight-from-the-bayou badass who captains Nick Nolte’s corrupt college squad. Pure genius. And don’t even get me started on his sly comic turn as a brilliant weapons developer-slash-superhero in Steel, his hilariously, um, idiosyncratic hip-hop lyrics (I freaks the flow with this tongue/That’s the style that I use/I’m Superman, superior yo/I never lose), or his Y2-Shaq e-commerce venture, dunk.net (which sells shoes and other Shaq-approved merchandise). The Shaq appeal is obvious — his movies, music, and game all fulfill ultimate boyhood fantasies. Who doesn’t secretly want to be a 7’1” dunking machine? Who hasn’t dreamed of cutting his own hip-hop album? Or starring as a big-screen superhero? Indeed, with his unmatched cross-genre reach, Shaq is nothing short of a media mogul in the Master P mold (minus the No Limit soldiers and plus a whole lot of basketball skills, of course). And besides, what other multimedia genius are you gonna root for on the Lakers…Kobe?

Guilt-o-meter: 7

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