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Friday, March 28, 2003
Updated: May 23, 7:13 AM ET
Jocks to GIs: Shaquille O'Neal


See previous e-mail between Shaquille O'Neal and Tony Franklin:
March 29-April 6


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2003 2:17 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: STILL HERE

Yeah, things are a little hectic. On my down time...I've been trying to catch as much of the Playoffs (especially checking you guys out) as I can. You are correct, the Spurs aren't going away.....you know what that means.....got to take it to them! As far as things over here in the Gulf....still a little busy....a lot of the forces are re-deploying back to the states...but we still have a nice contingent of folks here. The weather has not let up over the last couple of weeks....it has consistently been at 110+ over this period with high humidity.....and summer is around the corner.....I've gotten at least three shades darker (no kidding) since I've been here.....I should be heading home in a month or so and hopefully, I'll get out to LA to see ya. Never been out there, always wanted to visit....now, I have a reason. Take care and go ahead and finish off those Spurs. Take the team on your back and start rolling.....DEFENSE! Thanks for continuing to write and I'll talk to you later.....I'll tell all that you said HELLO!

Oh, one other thing......one of the guys here in Doha (a military police) has admired you for sometime....Specialist Cowley traded over 1,000 cards to get one of your cards (don't know the specifics).....and has liked you ever since he can remember...one bad thing...he is from UTAH!

Shaq...thanks for making my time go by that much easier....I looked forward to your emails and just chatting with you....hopefully, we will remain in contact. Thanks to you and ESPN!

Sincerely,

Tony


From: Shaquille O'Neal
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2003 11:51 AM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: GO LAKERS!

Tony

Was thinking about you the other day haven't heard from you in awhile. Things must be hetic. Spurs are tough. Wish us luck. Say hello to the guys.

Shaq


From: Shaquille O'Neal
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2003 1:17 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: GO LAKERS!

Tony,

How's things? Timberwolves won't go away. Garnett is playing great. But the road to the championship goes through us.

I've been keeping up with the events. Stay safe.

Thanks for all the support. Say hello to Gen. Brooks.

Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2003 11:57 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: GO LAKERS!

Shaq,

Hey, just wanted to say HELLO from Doha and that I'm watching the games out here. GO LAKERS! Take care and I'll talk to you later.

Tony


From: Shaquille O'Neal
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 12:36 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: Hey

Tony,

What's happening? I am sure you will be pulling for the LAKERS. This will be a very exciting and difficult championship run. I do think that if we stay focused that we have a great chance of "four peating." There is so much going on in my life at this moment, but I will be dedicating a part of the playoff success to the men and women fighting for freedom.

Please say hello to General Brooks. Thank him for his support. Tell him that I try watching the press conferences in the mornings when I am awake. He definitely has a commanding presence and he keeps us abreast and reassured that we will meet our objectives.

Also thank him for his questions. The first question is a little tricky, simply because I have played with so many great players during my career, but, one of the players that I have enjoyed playing with is Brian Shaw. I call him "B-Shaw", we have played together in both Orlando and now with the LAKERS. Brian is a student of the game of basketball.

I have told him that, although I said publicly many times, that when Phil Jackson retires so will I, if he were coaching I would consider playing for him. Brian is confident, no matter what the situation or opponent is, he always thinking ahead and knows what to do. At this point in his career he doesn't get the minutes that he once did however whenever his number is called he is always ready. During my time on the bench I often times sit next to him and listen to analysis of the game and my play. When he is on the court he sees me and always passes me the ball exactly where and when I want it. If you check over my career, especially these last three championship years Brian has passed me the ball, including the huge dunk that I had against Portland in game 7, during the most crucial times when he has been on the floor. Playing with him has only made me a better player. He has also helped me a great deal off the court and in the locker room.

Tell the General that it is also fun playing with and watching Kobe night after night. Seeing him play constantly you can really appreciate the game and his talent.

I have never officiated a game, I love the game so much that I don't think that I would be able to do a good job, especially watching some of the players out there I would be too much of a fan.

Again, job well done, be safe and thanks.

Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 3:39 PM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: RE: Hey

Shaq,

You're killing me......you know that I'm going for you guys......like I said earlier, the LAKERS are my SECOND/FIRST CHOICE....I just have to root for my home team (the Grizzlies) first.......but there is no question who I'm rooting for now and have been for some time.....since we were not going to make the playoffs! Go Lakers.....lol! Go Lakers!

As for the POW's......GOD works in mysterious ways......we are also HAPPY that they are OK and still ALIVE.....he is good! For the ones who were lost in this war, we mourn for them and their families.

As you made reference to in your email, things are definitely slowing down. However, there is still much work to be done in Iraq, mostly Humanitarian Assistance (HA), and keeping a watchful eye out for the remaining pockets of resistance until they get stabilized (as you mentioned below). Things are definitely going VERY WELL and according to the original plan. Right now, I think (in my personal opinion) that the Iraqi people are still a little apprehensive and somewhat excited at the same time....why I say that.....being under Saddam's underarm for all those years and not being able to 'breathe' (figuratively speaking) without the fear of something happening! Can you imagine......I'm just glad that the people got smart quickly and realized that we were are here only to remove Saddam's Regime and assist them in getting their lives back.....not to take over there country.....if they hadn't come to this conclusion, this war could have been a lot uglier.

General Brooks asked that I pass this to you: "Hello Shaq and good luck in the playoffs!"

Shaq, got a question: Can you name the player that you just vibed with (with regards to skill level/tenacity/passion for the game/knowledge of the game, etc.) while you've been playing basketball (on any level)? When I say "vibed with," I mean a person that you just felt comfortable with his game in any situation, you knew what he was thinking and he knew what you thought, you fed off each other and the vibes were -- just there! You know what I'm talking about. I'm just curious. Also, have you ever officiated a basketball game (whether it was intramural, pick-up, and/or official) before?

Take care and I'll talk to you later.

Tony


From: Shaquille O'Neal
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 3:16 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: Hey

Tony,

What's happening? Hopefully things are settling down some. I am hoping that things are over quickly, the country is stabilized and everyone comes home. I was happy to hear that the POWs were located and are coming home.

The playoffs are about a week away. We have two more games. The Grizzlies aren't going to make it. Who are you rooting for?

Thanks for the link.

Be safe,

Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2003 3:53 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: NEWSPAPER ARTICLE FOR YOUR READING

Shaq,

I've attached the hyperlink to the article that I was referring to in my last email. The sports reporter who wrote the story mentioned that he interviewed you right after you guys beat the Grizzlies (for the 2nd time in less than 2 wks). He said that you were very supportive and that you really enjoyed communicating with the troops! Tks!


From: Shaquille O'Neal
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2003 12:48 PM
To: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Subject: RE: HELLO!

Tony,

How's it going? Again, I am following things on CNN and I see that things are heating up. Be careful. You are right with the playoffs approaching it will be harder to email you daily but I will always respond back when I get a chance. I often times travel with my lap top. However, somedays between travel, playing and practice I don't plug it up.

Thanks for the invite to Uncle Sam's place. I will keep it in mind. Tonight we got Sacramento again. Let me know what you think if you see the game or the highlights. Send me a copy of the article when you get a chance.

Be safe,
Shaq


From: Franklin, YN1 Antonio
Sent: Monday, April 7, 2003 9:04 AM
To: Shaquille O'Neal
Subject: HELLO!

Shaq,

 Tony Franklin
Yeah, I'm still going strong and motivated to do my 'little' part in this great 'big' effort to remove the Iraqi Regime. I say again, I'm truly honored to be serving with some GREAT people here at CENTCOM Headquarters! You guys are good at what you do....keep it up! Shaq, rest assured we will not let America and the rest of the world down and we will return as soon as we can complete our mission. On behalf of ALL the troops here and on the front line, we really do appreciate the support that you guys are giving us. Thanks!

I did see part of the Dallas game (woke up early just to catch you play....arrived when you were in the process of being called for an offensive goaltending...lol). I read about the game against the Grizzlies on ESPN.com. You and the Lakers are really coming together at a key time as you all head into the playoffs.

Glad to hear that you have GOD in your life....I hear you and I COMMEND you! No easy task walking the walk being a celebrity and all, but you da man and you can do it with his help.

As far as inviting us (me and my family) to a game, don't worry about that....we will extend an invitation to you and your teammates to our home for a good Southern cooked meal, much cheaper! Don't worry, my uncle Sam has plenty of room for y'all in a comfortable environment.

As the playoffs approach, I will be cognizant that you will have lesser and lesser time to respond to my emails....I understand. Take care of your business and hit me back when you can. U DA MAN! Bring the championship home....since the Grizzlies aren't there, I'm ALL for you and the LAKERS!

Take care and I'll talk to you later,
Tony

P.S. My local newspaper, The Commercial Appeal did an article on me and you with regards to us emailing back and forth, it was a very good article. I'll send it to you for your reading. Tks again for what you are doing!