Getting a Lapful of Hustling Shaq
East Valley Tribune
March 10, 2008
One minute, Scottsdale resident Dan Wise was sitting next to his son in his second-row seat in Section 113 Sunday afternoon, enjoying the Suns and San Antonio Spurs battle at US Airways Center.
And the next — midway through the third quarter — Suns center Shaquille O’Neal chased a loose ball out of bounds, leaped over the first row of seats and Wise had become the runway for an inbound, 7-foot-1, 325-pound jumbo jet.
“I just saw him coming at me, and it just got dark real fast,” Wise said.
“There wasn’t much time to react.”
Wise’s bottom lip took the worst of the impact and was swelling proudly as he was attended to by medical personnel under the stands a few minutes after the collision.
O’Neal’s hustle play typified his 14-point, 16-rebound effort and that of the Suns, who ended their worst run of the season — six losses in nine games — with a 94-87 win over the rival Spurs in a nationally televised game.
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“My first thought was, ‘That play is what basketball is all about, that’s what people come to see,’ ” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “My second was ‘My family doesn’t sit there’ ... because he could have wiped the whole section.
“A play like that makes a difference to everybody. It’s just heart and passion and getting fired up. If we lose, we lose, but let’s go down swinging.”
O’Neal said when he went over the first row, he saw there were a couple of children in the area “so I had to shift 15 degrees to the left” to avoid them.
No worse for wear, O’Neal pulled himself to his feet and was greeted by a standing ovation from Phoenix fans for his hustle.
“There goes Superman,” Suns forward Amaré Stoudemire said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Wise was getting pats on the back from surrounding friends and fans for taking a charge from The Diesel and living to tell about it.
“I’m OK. I got a good story out of a fat lip,” Wise said.
COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.