Last week, Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal was revoked of honorary deputy badges in the fallout following his Kobe Bryant diss freestyle. O’Neal ripped his former Los Angeles Lakers’ teammate at a New York club earlier in June mocking this season’s Most Valuable Player’s failure to win an NBA championship without him. The media immediately grasped the opportunity to reignite the O’Neal – Bryant feud that dominated sports circles years ago but missed the bigger story. As a result of the much publicized video of Shaq’s freestyle rap, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona was the first to demand badges back. USA Today sportswriters Reid Cherner and Tom Weir posed the central question of this issue as “what is the upside of this?” The real question and real controversy is why would Shaq seek to be an honorary deputy sheriff to a demonstrably anti-immigrant bigot and racial profiler like Arpaio?
The sports media for the most part took Arpaio’s publicity move to revoke Shaq’s honorary badges as a bold typed headline to criticize “The Big Cactus” for his tasteless freestyle. Forget Laker’s guard Sasha Vujacic’s self-styled identity as “The Machine,” or Shaq’s own quipped up nicknames over the years, Arpaio is the real megalomaniac in this story who refers to himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” His controversial reign as sheriff of Maricopa County has netted him the opposition of groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and various immigrant rights organizations. It is this backdrop that contextualizes the most blatant failures of the corporate sports media to catch the irony of Sheriff Arpaio demanding Shaq’s badges back on the grounds of the NBA star’s use of profanity and a “racially derogatory” remark.
America’s dumbest sheriff justified his prima donna move against Shaq by stating, “I want his two badges back…because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they’re fired. I don’t condone this type of racial conduct.” For those wondering what in the world the dumb as a sack of hammers sheriff is talking about, Shaq referred to Kobe as “nigga” once in his freestyle! Of course, the initial reaction to this line of thinking is, “huh?” Black people can call other black people whatever they want! And only black people can debate what terms they use for each other are disagreeable! Shut the fuck up sheriff! Now let’s get into Arpaio’s own racial conduct. Unlike former Lakers forward Karl Malone who allegedly once told Kobe Bryant’s Latina wife, “I’m huntin’ for little Mexican girls,” sheriff Arpaio went huntin’ for Mexican girls, boys, parents, grandparents, tios, tias and everything brown in between in Mesa, Arizona days after berating Shaq in the media. Arpaio called the two-day sweep of the city “Operation Ghost,” and arrested 72 people. News media in Arizona said that the sweep apprehended 28 undocumented immigrants. What the newsprint failed to point out is what were the other 44 people taken into custody? 28-72 looks like Shaq’s numbers at the charity stripe!
Though the NBA playoffs are long over, America’s most racist sheriff plans to carry out more sweeps in the future. Even worse, he plans to do so without advanced warning and cares not for protesters lambasting the racial profiling such sweeps carry with them. One has to wonder why Shaq would have even associated himself with such a character in the first place? Arpaio’s rap sheet gets worse and is much more offense than anything Shaq said behind the mic off the top of his head at a club. Aside from his anti-immigrant resume, Arpaio has continually violated the human and constitutional rights of detainees in Maricopa’s jails. He has reinstated chain gang inmate labor for men and women. He has made prisoners wear pink underwear and eat green bologna. Sheriff Arpaio also created a Tent City detention camp where detainees suffer in Arizona’s extreme hot weather conditions. Families of those who have died in Arpaio’s jails have hit the bastard with millions of dollars in lawsuits.
So what’s the real story? Corporate media and sportswriters largely missed the beat on what transpired last week. Unfortunately, that was to be expected, but it gets worse. As a last thought, has anyone criticized the sexism of Shaq’s freestyle? If they have, I really haven’t seen it. The Suns center also said in reference to Kobe in his now infamous rhymes, “He said Shaq gave a bitch a mil/ I don’t do that/ cuz my name Shaquille.” Sadly, Shaq did try to take the media to task for not talking about his more “positive” raps about his former teammate when he also said in his freestyle,” That girl in Colorado was only trying to get cash / Kobe didn’t rape her / he just put it in her ass.” Now that I think about, Shaq should ask “Americas toughest sheriff,” for his stinkin’ honorary deputy badges back. “The Big Racist” and “The Big Cactus” are two dumb asses who could have quite a future together riding their blazing saddles into Arizona’s bigoted sunset…