Since the dawn of time, there have been numerous great sports mysteries that have left us scratching our heads. Where did James Earl Jones go at the end of Field of Dreams? Did Manti Te’o really get catfished? Whatever happened to Ray Lewis’s white suit? While I have my theories on all of the above (and one includes a box of matches and a stainless steel garbage can), there is one mystery that stands above the rest in sports lore: How did Aaron Carter really beat Shaq at basketball?
In 2001, the world forever changed when music and sports collided in the form of a 13-year-old stud rapping (if it can be called that) about how he did the unthinkable – beat Shaquille O’Neal one-on-one. Now, scholars maintain Aaron Carter, the younger brother of Backstreet Boy sensation Nick Carter, was being facetious in his depiction of the most epic basketball game since the ending of Space Jam, but I’ll take Aaron’s words at face value. Let’s dissect the lyrics of “That’s How I Beat Shaq” to discern just how young A.C. did in fact beat one of the greatest centers in NBA history.
Our first clue comes in verse one when Aaron gives us a bit of insight into his mental game. Upon assessing the situation and agreeing to a game of one-on-one, Aaron employs the classic technique of intimidation to get Shaq shaking in his size 23 shoes. In the words of Mr. Carter, “Stared at Shaq, psyche him out,” meaning Aaron fixated his eyes on the large NBA star long enough to make Shaq psychically uncomfortable. Then, in a brilliant display of trash talking, Aaron asserts to Shaq that he in fact has home court advantage and that Shaq should be very frightened right now. Genius. Pure genius.
The next glimpse into Aaron’s triumph comes in verse two. Just as the game is getting out of hand and Shaq is “scoring mad points” on our protagonist, Aaron digs deep into the schoolyard ball archives and utilizes the art of misdirection. I realize this all seems basic to us, but need I remind you we’re talking about Nick Carter’s younger brother here? In a devious move, Aaron points to Shaq’s untied shoelace, making the behemoth look down just long enough for Aaron to swipe the ball and take it the other way. A few swishes later, and Aaron is back in the game!
In the final verse of the greatest sports song since they stopped making Jock Jams albums, Aaron paints a picture of desperation. Down by two points, Aaron throws up a prayer. The crowd waits in suspense. Just like Jordan in his flu game, Carter is clutch, sinking a shot which turns out to be the nail in the coffin. Shaq weeps openly as the crowd roars for their young hero. A young child, the height of Muggsy Bogues, has just beaten the 7-foot Shaquille O’Neal. Kobe Bryant doesn’t know it yet, but this song will be his anthem later in life.
So that’s how Aaron Carter really beat Shaq. It just goes to show that with a little creativity and some old school trickery, you too can best your nemesis in any arena. All you need is a sick beat and an awesome cheering section. Not to mention a lyricist with mad skillz. And to think, it was all for the love of Hillary Duff. Who wants to watch the “Lizzie McGuire Movie?” Anyone? Bueller?