TEMPE, AZ—Claiming he was initially excited at the prospect of playing for a legitimate championship contender, new Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal admitted Monday that, upon reading about the phenomenon of massive stellar explosions popularly known as supernovas, he is now terrified of the entire organization.
"I have emerged from my astronomical studies a much more educated man, a learned man, and yes—a frightened man. I am now a sage of the supernova," O'Neal said during a combination press conference and PowerPoint presentation at an Arizona State University lecture hall. "If I would have known being a Sun meant being a part of a system where gravity could collapse, causing my radiant celestial body to explode in an event 10 times brighter than an ordinary Phoenix Sun—or worse, dematerialize into a neutron star or possibly a black hole—I would have never agreed to the trade."
"I have a family to think of," continued a visually tense O'Neal, who later stated that, because supernovas occur in our galaxy once every 40 to 50 years, the Suns, having joined the league in 1968, are "due for a big one."
While O'Neal said that simply being a part of the Suns' runaway-nuclear-fusion-reaction style of play would be frightening enough, he added that learning how an aging supergiant star typically ends its life cycle in a violent explosion was a profoundly terrifying experience. The 35-year-old center, who considers himself a super-giant star in the twilight of his career, has refused to go anywhere near his new teammates.
"Like Superman, I receive my energy from the Suns," O'Neal said. "I'm scared I will not be able to flourish in an environment where there is a risk that the Suns' supply of hydrogen could be exhausted, which would cause the core of the Suns to collapse into the center—in this case, me—and create a rise in temperature and pressure that would become great enough to ignite helium and then start a helium-to-carbon fusion cycle."
"Not even electron degeneracy pressure is enough to stop a supernova when that happens to a Sun," O'Neal added. "I don't even know what that means, and I am the Big Astronomer. But it scares me."
There's more . . .