The Matrix Reloaded

You know what was awesome about Shaquille O’Neal? When the Heat rode him to the title. You know what else? When they FedExed him to Phoenix in exchange for Shawn Marion.

In his first three games as a member of the Heat, Marion (nicknamed “the Matrix” for abiding by a brand of physics all his own) scored three fewer points than O’Neal scored in his entire last 18 for the Heat, and grabbed eight more rebounds than O’Neal did in that stretch. Marion is quick; he has trampolines in his socks; he shoots the three-ball (seemingly from his navel), and he plays with a massive chip on his shoulder, developed during years of being Star No. 3 in Phoenix, behind Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Oh, and he’s in a contract year. He wants $20 mil per, and though he isn’t worth it, he may not be far off.

Will the NBA’s version of Tigger stick around South Beach beyond June? Does it matter? His early returns suggest Miami could see an early return to respectability (sporting jargon for “not sucking profusely”). In any case, the Heat just got a lot more entertaining. They could even host a team as featureless as the Toronto Raptors, and it may be worth your drinking money, for the first time in a while. Get a look at the Marion-Go-Round at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets run cheap as $10. Call 786-777-4667, or visit
Wed., March 5, 2008

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Sam Eifling
Contact: Sam Eifling