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Shaq And Penny: Reunited And It Feels So Weird

Shaq and Penny, reunited? Believe it.

But I'm still a bit shocked by what happened today in Miami. The Miami Heat signed 36-year-old Anfernee Hardaway, bringing him back together with his former co-star/teammate/frenemy/nemesis Shaquille O'Neal. Unbelievable.

On the list of reunions you thought you'd never see - i.e. The Fat Boys, Milli Vanilli, Color Me Badd - this has to rank at the top. No way did I ever see expect to see Shaq and Penny Hardaway together again. But it's true.

What's next? The reunion of Shaq and Kobe?

I certainly didn't see this coming - especially since I thought Penny Hardaway had been tossed aside like the tape deck. His knees and feet were supposed to be in terrible shape. Hardaway hasn't played in the NBA since the 2005-06 season, when he gave the New York Knicks a total of 10 points and 10 rebounds in four games. If he ever came back, rejoining forces with O'Neal would seem to be last on his list. Beggers can't be choosers, I guess.

O'Neal and Hardaway haven't been in the same uniform since the 1996 Olympic team won gold in Atlanta. And before that, O'Neal had already bolted the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he went on to win three championships with Kobe Bryant. In the years after their split, the two took every opportunity possible to throw jabs at each other.

It seemed like Shaq had crushed Penny for good two seasons ago, when he spoke about his relationship with Dwyane Wade to those with Kobe Bryant and Penny, and made one of greatest, Shaqtastic analogies ever" "The difference between those three is in "The Godfather" trilogy. One is Fredo, who was never ready for me to hand it over to him. One is Sonny, who will do whatever it takes to be the man. And one is Michael, who if you watch the trilogy, the Godfather hands it over to Michael. So I have no problem handing it over to Dwyane."

Now, Shaq and Penny are reuinted and it feels so. . .weird. Shaq apparently supports the decision to sign Penny.

Shaq and Penny once starred in that classic film, Blue Chips, then O'Neal urged the Magic to trade Chris Webber to get him. They went on to tease us more than a decade ago with the promise of becoming the next Kareem Abdul-Jabber and Magic Johnson. They were Showtime/Central Florida edition, and led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995. But they proved to be too immature to play with one another and win anything other than endorsements. They succumbed to petty jealousies over whose team it was and whether Lil' Penny (a puppet voiced by the hilarious Chris Rock) was a bigger star than Shaq Fu (a rapper voiced by the hilarious Shaquille O'Neal).

Penny was awesome back in the day. A four time all-star, a three-time All-NBA performer, including first team honors twice, and a bonafide celebrity, with signature shoes and commercials. He never the same after Shaq left Orlando. He had a devastating knee injury in 1997, and despite some decent years with the Phoenix Suns, he had some serious foot troubles that made him a distant memory. He's since been dealt to the New York Knicks and back the Orlando Magic in February 2006. At the time, I thought he was moments from being sent out to pasture and turned to glue. His career was basically over.

I know that I strongly urged Reggie Miller to stay retired, but this comeback thing appears to be an epidemic, with Allan Houston and even Charles Oakley joining the list of players hinting that their playing days might not be over. Now Penny's back in the NBA. (Side note: what is Pat Riley doing down there. First Smush Parker, now this?)

Maybe Shaq and Penny have fully grown up and gotten over their past. At least they don't have to argue over control of the team. There is no doubt that the Miami Heat belongs to . . . Dwyane Wade.

By Michael Lee  |  August 9, 2007; 7:19 PM ET
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