Friday, October 10, 2008

Shaq vs. Fes: Round 1

Shaq and Fesenko back in the day

Shaq was Kyrylo's hero growing up . . . and really, if you are 7'1 and play basketball Shaq SHOULD be your role model, as no other modern player at his height and size has done better in their lifetime. Fesenko isn't one of your fancy dancy prancy outside shooting centers, and while he seems to have inherited some European bigman passing skills, he understands that his path to success should rarely stray farther than 8 feet from the basket.

If you've seen his game, it's hard not to see some level of sincere emulation on the part of Fes to play like Shaq as well. He wants to get better. He wants to be the fabled vanilla gorilla.

They finally got a chance to suit up against each other on Thursday night, with Shaq's Phoenix Suns winning the game -- both Shaq and Fes had nothing to do with the game's outcome though. (Shaq had 5 points and 3 assists, Fesenko had nothing but a single steal in 12 minutes of action) After the game Fes had some interesting comments to make about playing against The Diesel.

Fes bodies him up . . .

. . . pokes the ball away . . .

. . . and lives to talk about it.
Before . . . . . . after!

"It was really hard," Fesenko said. "I realize that I am not big, I am not strong. I am small girl compared to Shaq. So I have a lot of work to do - I have a lot of work to do - and I need to start right now if I want to make the team, at least this year."

Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty ImagesPhotographed by Steve C. Wilson for AP Photo

O'Neal didn't say anything to him Thursday, but the 7-foot-1, 300-pound Fesenko said, "One time after I push him in the back, he look at me and this look I will see probably in my nightmares." (Kyrylo Fesenko, via Ross Siler, 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune)

For all the Fes haters out there, Shaq posted up on him 8 times, and scored only once and finished with a grand total of 3 points when he was being checked by Fesenko. The other feller isn't even healthy enough to get into games (you know, Koufos) . . . but it's still all Fes' fault, for everything . . . the loss, the lack of a championship last season, the economy, global warming, and so on. Still, none other than Jerry Sloan had this to say after the game:

"That's a tough assignment," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan added. "At least he tried to compete against him. That was the nice thing to see. That's a little bit more than what we got out of some of the other people." (Jerry Sloan, via Ross Siler, 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune)

You can't be that bad if you hold Shaq to three points in your 2nd pre-season in your career . . . I don't know why people have already given up on Fesenko . . . just because he has a longer learning curve doesn't mean he can't be a good player. Chauncey Billups had a very long learning curve as well, and he was a 1st round pick -- Kyrylo was a 2nd rounder. Give him a break, guys! He played better defense on Shaq than Ostertag ever did. And he's only 21!