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Shaquille O'Neal shuns Sheriff Joe Arpaio, chooses Tempe PD instead.

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No doubt about who's the top, and who's the bottom in Danny Hellman's brilliant Bird illo.

That Shaq is a shrewd fella. In a March 13 Bird item, I speculated that the Big Aristotle, now also known as the Big Cactus, might be tempted to do biz with Sheriff Joe, perhaps even endorse our aged law man for reelection. After all, Shaq has a bit of a hard-on for law enforcement. The Desert Diesel has made no secret of his plans to pursue a career as a cop of some sort following his retirement from the NBA, hopefully with another championship ring in his collection. And for many years now he's held reserve officer positions with the Miami Beach PD and others. Crikey, he's even collared some evil-doers in his day!

But as all citizens of Maricopa County know, some evil-doers wear badges, and Shaq-Fu does have a history of cozying up to mean ol' Sheriff Joe. In 2006, upon being made a captain in the Sheriff's posse, he gushed about our geriatric gendarme to the Arizona Republic, saying, "He's a great sheriff...One of the best."

Sickening, eh? But he was outsider then, and still with the Miami Heat, so I cut him some slack in the Bird item, advising the Big Baryshnikov to steer clear of the Grampa Munster look-alike in the beige shirt. The illo of Shaqzilla in bed with a bra-wearin' Joe? Priceless.

Now I read this little ditty in the Republic by Kendall Wright, to the effect that, "Tempe should brace itself for a Shaq-attack, as police confirmed Tuesday that Phoenix Suns star Shaquille O'Neal is set to become a volunteer with the Tempe Police Department in the near future."

Perhaps Shaq saw New Times and took my warning to heart. (Doubtless someone showed him that illo.) Moreover, how could he disagree with the analysis therein? Take a look the papers. They're full Joe's sadism and corruption, from the TB patient who fled to Russia to escape Joe and now faces an incredibly asinine indictment insisted on by Arpaio, to Arpaio changing his story on the arrest of Chandler Sgt. Tom Lovejoy and Arpaio's abuse of the DROP system to keep on the over-paid cronies in his administration. Not to mention the whole Honduran scam.

If Shaq were to snuggle up to the Sheriff now that he lives in the Valley and plays for the Suns, he would be tainted by the same stench of malfeasance and abuse of power that dogs Joe's every step. By offering his time to the Tempe PD, instead of the Sheriff's posse, he's done himself and us a favor. If Shaq were to lend his time to the MCSO, it would surely assist Arpaio in his bid for reelection. And that would be the worse thing that could happen in Sand Land this political year.

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