No question, in the few minutes GO was paired against Shaq last night, the veteran had his way with the rookie. Had Shaq kept his mouth shut after the game, GO might have suffered a serious blow to his confidence.
But no: Shaq had to go and rub GO's nose in it, "accidently" calling him "Odom" and generally scoffing at the notion that this kid would ever approach his exhalted level. As Przy observed, that's just Shaq; he's always playing mind games. But I suspect that Shaq's mind-game will backfire this time. I think GO and the Blazers owe Shaq a big "thank you" for mouthing off like he did.
According to Quick's piece in today's Oregonian, GO was subdued after the game, acknowledging in a barely audible voice that he'd played poorly. But Quick also observed that GO was staring off into the distance as he made his remarks. My hunch is that GO wasn't just staring off into space; he was staring at a vision of himself someday dominating Shaq like he'd just been dominated. And when GO hears what Shaq had to say to the media, that will throw gasoline on the fire. If GO was motivated to improve before, this encounter with Shaq may put his desire on a whole different level.
My own heart's desire is, a year or two from now, to see Greg Oden do to Shaq what Shaq did to Arvydas Sabonis: reduce him to tears. I want to see GO dunk and block Shaq into oblivion. Then, in GO['s post-game remarks, I want to hear him say something like, "Sure, I dominated tonight. OK, that's putting it mildly. But Jermaine O'Neal was definitely an above-average center in his day. It's a mistake to give ALL the credit for his championships to Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade."
OK, that's my expectation--or at least my fervent hope: that we'll see a total role-reversal in the GO/Shaq matchup before all is said and done. But what do you see in your crystal ball?