By Noah Cohen-Greenberg and Sam Mermin
“I think they are the softest, mentally weakest team.” - Charles Barkley
"If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his ass out." - Shaquille O’Neal
Ernie: Ernie Johnson here with Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley. Today we’re going to be talking about the story of a young mouse who is on the leading edge of player empowerment, but not everybody’s on board. Fellas?
Charles: You almost can’t even watch it.
Shaq: What he said.
Ernie: So the early returns are: We don’t like the superstar treatment for this mouse. Kenny?
Kenny: I think there’s never an easy way to deal with a mouse like this, but as an organization, you just have to figure it out.
Shaq: Maybe you let the mouse show you what it can do in a playoff game before you commit your whole future to it.
Kenny: But you don’t want to just lose it for nothi––
Shaq: First it’s: “I need a straw.” Then all of a sudden it’s showing up late to practice and not running on defense. Where does it end?
Charles: Exactly. Exactly.
Shaq: By the end of the book, now it’s another cookie. Excuse me, excuse me—I’ve seen this movie before.
Charles: Plant-based, analytics bullshit. In my day, mice ate cheese.
Kenny: You wouldn’t rather have a nice homemade, chocolate chip cookie?
Charles: Somebody tell me what happened to going home in the offseason and just getting better. Scurrying around, eating cheese like everybody else. Developing an edge.
Ernie: Well, I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s not working hard. He swept up from his own haircut.
Shaq: Oh, please. Please. He only did that after drinking a whole glass of milk on a max contract.
Charles: But what are we supposed to expect from him if this is how the organization treats him? I think this was a good louse ruined by a bad situation.
Ernie: You mean mouse.
Charles: Right, that’s what I said.
Kenny: I think this is just the world we live in now. You can’t pin that on one mouse.
Charles: They’re doing this to a whole generation of mice. Soft, all soft.
Kenny: Slow down––what’s ruined? It’s an entertaining book—
Shaq: Kenny, you’re wrong. And Chuck, you’re wrong too. This kid’s the worst of them. Looking at his milk mustache in the mirror. I know I wouldn’t be able to look at myself after—
Charles: That’s just what the game is like these days! Losing doesn’t stick with these kids. They could care less as long as they’re getting their paychecks.
Shaq: Not true. There are good kids out here.
Charles: Name one.
Shaq: Flat Stanley.
Shaq: Flat Stanley’s not asking for a cookie. Flat Stanley’s not asking for a little teeny tiny bed made out of a cigar box. When he looks in the mirror, he says, “I’m flat––okay: now I work twice as hard.”
Charles: Yeah but he’s a bad team player. He’s making everybody else angry.
Shaq: But he’s winning championships. Because, because, what Chuck doesn’t seem to understand, and has never understood, is that it’s about winning championships. This mouse can ask for a pen to sign all the autographs he wants. I care about championships.
Charles: Nobody’s winning a championship with this front office. I don’t care if they sign Percy Jackson! The organization’s rotten from the inside out.
Shaq: Percy Jackson?
Charles: The wizard kid.
Shaq: You mean Potter?
Ernie: Percy Jackson is a demigod––the son of Poseidon.
Charles: You can bring in Poseidon himself if you want. They’re not winning a championship.
Shaq: Like you would know anything about that.
Ernie: Easy, easy.
Shaq: Ernie, look, I won four championships, no lightning kid, no Poseidon, no hog warts or whatever they call the wizard school.
Charles: That’s true. And Phil Jackson wasn’t handing out damn cookies every time a player put his shoes on the right feet.
Kenny: I think the mouse has an impressive sense for the game. And he’s a businessman—there’s nothing wrong with that.
Shaq: I don’t want to watch it.
Kenny: He’s allowed to care about things other than winning.
Charles: Then why even write the book?
Shaq: That’s what I don’t understand.
Charles: What’s there to like in there? I opened it up—ruined my day.
Shaq: Should be some kind of, a, a content warning.
Charles: Content warning, yeah.
Ernie: Alright fellas, we’re running out of time here. One big question for everyone: what do we think is going to happen in the second of our double-header, If You Give A Moose A Muffin? You get thirty seconds each: what are your picks?
Kenny: I like what I’ve seen from the moose so far. I expect to see a productive game with very few mistakes.
Chuck: I’d like to see him go out and take the muffin for himself.
Shaq: Well said.
Chuck: In my day we made our own muffins.
Ernie: Well, times have changed Chuck. Maybe for the better?
Chuck: Nobody made me cookies either. Not even my grandmother.
Ernie: Shaq? Big fella to big fella: What would be your advice to the moose?
Shaq: I don’t want to see any more fadeaways 20 feet from the basket. Get inside. Scrap antlers with some guys.Chuck: You know what I’d love to see? The front office taking a stand, and saying, “Hell no. We’ll talk about a muffin after you show us what you can do.”