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As U.S. relations with Cuba begin the process of normalizing, the State Department is naming envoys that will help improve how we interact with our neighbors across the water. The most prominent citizen that will be representing the red, white, and blue is NBA superstar turned TV personality, Shaquille O’Neal. Of course, Shaq isn’t the first basketballer to take on the task of negotiating with an old enemy. In 2014, Dennis Rodman took on the task of improving relations with North Korea.
The Worm and Shaq Diesel are two wildly different people known for similar things. They have huge personalities and are NBA Hall of Famers, but how do they stack up as diplomats? Frat Science has taken it upon itself to compare how these two big men stack up on the court of public opinion.
Shaq measures up at an impressive 7’1″ and roughly 325 pounds, making him officially four times as large as the average Cuban. He holds an Ed.D in Human Resource Development, is a reserve member of the L.A. Port Police, and took on The Big Show at WrestleMania 32. He has four rings, something that has no impact on diplomatic relations, but probably helps with the ladies.
Strengths: Winning personality, buckets of charisma, off-the-court versatility, universally loved.
Weaknesses: Acting, free throws, Kobe, sentences.
Rodman is arguably the greatest rebounder in basketball history, something he proved when he ditched Madonna’s janky ass for Carmen Elektra’s fine self. He has also been the face of numerous gambling websites, a successful professional wrestler, and a noted fan of various theatrics. Rodman sees Shaq’s four rings and raises him five, not counting the ones in his nose, ears, eyebrows, and presumably dong hole.
Strengths: Dramatic flair, always in possession of thousands in jewelry, high motor and defensive hustle.
Weaknesses: Magnets, booze, dresses under size 32.
At first glance, Rodman’s hustle seems to give him an edge. Half of diplomacy is showing up and giving it all you’ve got. However, his long wait at airport security terminals while he disassembles his getup will likely lead to various delays. Shaq’s struggle with compound words will likely be overlooked when he flashes his smile, and he should be able to get along with Fidel unless someone brings up Kazaam.
Initial edge: Shaq
Networking and Relations
Although he’s rubbed elbows with everyone from Justin Bieber to George W. Bush, Shaq’s experience is primarily on a domestic front. Aside from a couple Olympics, he hasn’t spent as much time abroad as Rodman. Dennis has backed out of a wife-carrying contest in Finland and promoted gambling on the new Pope in Vatican City. He’s also rubbed shoulders with America’s lowest level, chalking up an impressive ten arrests and (reportedly) over seventy noise complaints at his place in South Beach. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not partial to some clean-cut choir boy talking to potentially dangerous foreigners. Coasting on natural charisma won’t help you with this one, Diesel.
Networking Edge: Rodman
Shaq is talented but untested. He could go out and knock down the goal post, or he could line up and miss an easy free throw. Instead of stakes like making the playoffs, however, we’re looking at the Bay of Pigs 2.0 vs. strong foreign relations and a fortified economy. He comes into the role with a high degree of visibility, meaning there’s a strong chance Cuban leaders will be aware of what he brings to the table. Still, his lack of experience is a serious issue and one that could be exploited. Conversely, Rodman completely botched his “mission” to North Korea and took a lot of shit for it. He ended up having to apologize in a flood of tears after his complete ineptitude was exposed.
Track Record Edge: Inconclusive
Final Score: 1 to 1
Winner: Who the fuck do you think?
It’s Shaq. Sure, it’s easy to joke, but I think the man is going to be a fantastic ambassador. He’s likable, he’s funny, and he’s a smart cookie. The Big Aristotle is going to score free Cohibas for everyone and have us playing a ton of baseball overseas. When you’re down there for spring break, smoking fine Chiba and sipping on bottomless Cuba Libres, think about all Shaq has done for us here in the states. Then have a moment of silence for Dennis Rodman, because damn does that guy need it..