This seems to happen every time. The gregariousness of the self-proclaimed Big Cactus/Aristotle/A-Hole seems to concoct some sort of witches brew before every meeting with his former team.

In his five seasons since being traded, Shaquille O’Neal has gotten in a shoving match with an 18-year old, buried the hatchet with Kobe, and this time, has dug up that very hatchet and slung it into the back of Phil Jackson.

Shaquille O’Neal, despite all of his grandeur and heroism during his eight seasons in Los Angeles, has become the city’s favorite villain.

His self-appropriated Man of Steel style always stood in stark contrast to the agile and vengeful Dark Knight persona of Kobe Bryant. Yet, the two heroes managed to win three consecutive titles, and for a time, proved that Batman and Superman could indeed work together. We all know how it ended. We all know the fights that transpired. We all heard what Shaquille has now told the Sac Bee.

With all the intrigue, muckraking and war mongering that Shaquille O’Neal has spearheaded over the course of his illustrious career, he has seemed to forget one important truth: it does not matter.

The interviews, the Shaq-isms, the nicknames, TWISM, none of it matters.

We were all duped. Shaquille O’Neal is a fraud. Shaquille O’Neal is more Lex Luthor, a master manipulator and savvy businessman than he is Clark Kent, a hardworking man of the people, despite being far from human.

2008-09 is the last stand of the Phoenix before it crumbles to dust. Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill and the aforementioned O’Neal are rapidly aging, and I hardly expect Robin Lopez, Goran Dragic, Matt Barnes and Leandro Barbosa to rise to Western Conference supremacy after the elder Suns depart the NBA.

The Lakers head into the City of Smoke with not only the best record in the league (8-1), but with a chance to firmly illustrate the dichotomy between themselves and their Pacific Division rivals.

Tipoff: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • National: TNT (Kevin Harlan & Doug Collins)

Radio:

  • Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Phoenix: AM 620 KTAR (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • None to report.

Suns:

  • Questionable: Leandro Barbosa (family issue)

Storylines

The Life of a Total Square: If you liked those Batman/Superman references in the pregame, you might be Suns backup center Robin Lopez. Lopez is wayyyyyy into comic books and all things Disney. Like… seriously into it. Figurines all over his room, esoteric trivial knowledge, Disney-freak.

This fact makes Robin Lopez a way freaken cool and awesome dude. I could geek it HARD with the Lopez twins. A day of The New Avengers and Uncanny X-Men topped off with a viewing of their favorite Disney film Sleeping Beauty.

Varsity Challenge
(Prize: A super special shout-out on Shaq’s Twitter.)

Describe, in detail, the Curse of the Coin Flip.

  • SEAN, PHILIPPINES

    LET’S GO PURPLE AND GOLD! LET’S KEEP THE STREAK ROLLING AGAIN. IT’S NICE TO SEE ANDREW GO UP AGAINST SHAQ, AND PAU GOING UP AGAINST AMARE.
    LET’S GET IT ON!

  • e

    i like kobe and the dark knight reference..but thats prlly bcuz i just watched a free showing of the dark knight at uci tonight…best movie in the world

  • Freshh

    Lakers win by 9

  • Diehardfan

    I hate the fact that even though Shaq has moved on all we can still talk about is him. Why? Doesn’t everyone get it that he loves the spotlight and he needs to be the center of attention. Let’s just talk basketball.

    This game is going to be about the match up between Amare and Pau. Kobe will get his. But this is going to be one of those games where Shaq is extra motivated as he always has been, meaning that he picks and chooses when he wants to play. I can’t wait to see the matchup between him and Bynum.

  • Peter

    Time for Bynum to posterize Shaq, something we have all been waiting for him to do.

    Lakers win by 11.

  • T.A.

    As much as Shaq has stirred things up, He is still a Laker Immortal!

    Shaq came to L.A. and made up one half of the greatest 1-2 punches of all time.

    I fully believe that Shaq’s latest comments are a sign that he wishes he was still in L.A. and is almost jealous of how well the lakers are doing. I believe he wants to be a part of it again.

    Shaq was great for the lakers and Shaq was great for Kobe

  • http://friendster.com/reygamboa David Gamboa

    i’m very much looking forward for this game. its superman vs batman!

  • ICE CREAM MAN

    This is a huge measuring stick for Bynum tonight. Either we will see a man who is committed to dominate for years to come or a boy that just got a big raise and is now running to hide under his covers.

    Bynum needs to Dunk more often to strike fear in opponents instead of just shooting bankers ala Duncan.

  • http://ld2k.com Chris Manning

    Big game for Bynum. Also, imo, last year’s Lakers @ Phx game when they had Gasol was one of the best regular season games I had ever seen last year. It was very intense and very fun to watch. I look forward to a great game tonight!

  • jason420_7

    i love when we play pheonix and one of the most overrated players of all time steve nash (serioulsy doesn he know how to play any defense)..i heard someone on tv call him a definite hall of famer..my question is WHY!!..lakers win 119-98

  • DCLAKER

    Ariza will dunk on Amare tonight.

  • mr.laker19

    Big game tonight. Kobe is Batman and he will grappling hook his way to victory tonight. I want to see him more aggressive tonight and see more of the triangle. I also want Bynum to show us more dominance because I believe he will be better than Oden. Overall lets win. LETS GO LAKESHOW!!!

  • sketch

    i can’t wait for tonight’s game. can’t wait to see bynum and goasol work over THE BIG CHOLESTEROL and that punk ass amare with his new punk mohawk hair do, who by the way,looks like a total IDIOT!!!!

    seriously, can shaq be any worse than he’s been as of late? he’s just so fat and clogs up the middle like cholesterol in arteries. he got his sh*t blocked 3 times in the game against utah and he’s also become the BIG BOUNCER as of late. have you guys seen what he’s been doing? straight hurtin fools! stern better get a handle on that sh*t before someone ends their career because of that fool.

    DC, ariza will dunk on both amare and the BIG CHOLESTEROL! bynum will posterize THE BIG BOUNCER. gasol will show diaw how to play finese euro ball the right way. kobe will proceed to pimp and bitch slap raja DING DONG bell. fisher will make nash cry like a little canadian that he is with his physicality. and finally, vlady will have another crappy game.

  • K0be08-09

    This is going to be one good game, only way to win this is pplay defence and have kobe being Kobe(ALL AROUND GAME KOBE) and i dont know how we going to stop Amare, Nash will have his assists. We need to stop Shaq and the Roll PLayers to win this.

    AMare will get his numbers

  • T.A.

    Did anyone notice NBA TV???

    The lakers/nets got like 67% of the vote for next tuesdays fan night

    but they took down the voting and announced it would be cavs/knicks

  • DCLAKER

    NBA TV should be banned for that…or executed.

  • jason420_7

    thats ok..i’m in new york and lakers/nets will be on the YES network anyways :) lol

  • dom1020

    AHHHH, dont ya love the lakers vs suns rivalry. great game tonite im so hyped, been waiting all week for this game!

  • http://youtube.com/MvpGoesToKobe LakersNewDynasty08

    INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPSSSSSS

  • LAKERNATION

    [Comment ID #55101 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Wait what the f*ck dude are you serious man??????? Like I made everyone vote for that shit because I hella want that game to be on nbatv. But with all that said I still get to watch it because I have LEAGUE PASS BABY!!!!!!!

  • DCLAKER

    Let’s trade Luke for Adam Morrison before tonight’s game…that would be could cold..well,he got that contract the same way..so did B.Cook.

    What if Luke gets 20.com? RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIght.

  • LAKERNATION

    [Comment ID #55115 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Oh and ahmad rashad probable made it happen because he was so worried about having that gay a** matchup on nbatv because he said that lebron will be playing in the madison square garden and who gives a f*ck that madison square garden shit that is all 90s bullsh*t.

  • Michael_23

    [Comment ID #55117 Will Be Quoted Here]

    They should lose the voting thing because they know fans are going to vote Lakers. Lakers are entertaining, they are winners, and they bring drama to the table. They also have the greatest player in the game today and I also they they have the best PF in the game right now in Pau Gasol. The also have the best coach of all time and the deepest bench in the league. I can go on and on …

    Fans will vote for Lakers vs Wolves over Phoenix Vs Boston. That’s just how it is.

  • Big Phil

    Shi_t! Someone tell Fish to stop shooting at the beginning of games and don’t drive…terrible, terrible shot selection and this guy can’t make layups. Why is he taking so many damn shots?! He’s a big reason Lakers get off to slow starts. Give the ball in to Pau and Kobe. Fish, stick to defense and passing, damnit!!!!

  • Big Phil

    As so-called “versatile” and “athletic” that Lamar is, why the hell does he sparingly jump on defense and try to block shots? I’m so sick of these damn statue of liberty poses that he does which always ends up in a foul.

  • e

    [Comment ID #55129 Will Be Quoted Here]

    fisher is ridiculous at times…the best thing would be to pick up some other f.a. veteran pg and have fisher come off the bench occasionally, he’s exactly the reason why the second unit performs better than the first…he brings up the ball and decides to dribble for a good 5 seconds before he passes and sometimes he doesnt pass and takes a weird shot

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