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Thursday, June 01, 2023
Shaquille O'Neal

I met Shaquille O'Neal when I was living in Orlando Florida, he had literally just signed for the Orlando Magic basketball team.

Shaquille O'Neal.

It was August 1992 & I didn't know much about basketball at all being an English man. I was living in Orlando & had decided to go to Church Street Station for a beer. I knew quite a few of the girls that worked down there so there was always someone to talk to. I got the bus to downtown Orlando & walked to go to The Cheyenne Saloon. As I walked up to the door this very tall man walked in behind me followed by a crowd of people pushing & shoving each other to get to him.

As I stood at the bar trying to order a beer the crowd with him kept trying to get closer to him & pushed me out of the way to get to him to interview him. After a while, it became obvious I wasn't going to be able to get to the bar because of all the rude, ignorant press trying to get to him. Because of this, I decided to leave & go to Rosy O'Gradys opposite. As I got up to leave he followed me over to Rosy O'Gradys & again the press kept pushing me out of the way to get to him. 

Luckily for me, a girl I knew was behind the bar & she poured me, a pitcher of beer when she saw me & brought it to my table for me. She told me who Shaquille O'Neal was & why there was such a fuss being made about him. She told me that Shaquille O'Neal had signed for the Orlando Magic that day & at the time was the best player in Basketball, then she went back behind the bar.

After watching some of the show & getting their interview with Shaquille O'Neal the press all left. He turned towards me where I sat at a table & brought a pitcher of beer over & asked if I minded if he sat down with me. I said I didn't mind & he sat down. He immediately apologised & told me he had seen the press push me out of the way & had actually followed me over from The Cheyenne Saloon to say sorry. He pushed the pitcher of beer over to me & told me it was for me to say sorry. He sat down & said he noticed my accent & guessed that I was English. He asked if I was on holiday. I told him that I now lived in Orlando, he laughed & told me he guessed I came to Rosy O'Gradys a lot as the bar staff knew me & knew what I would have to drink. Before the show finished, he got up to leave, shook me by the hand & again apologised for the press behaviour.

I watched the rest of the show, being watched by everyone there, wondering who the person Shaquille O'Neal had sat down with was. When the show finished I took my empty pitcher back to the bar. The girl who had served me earlier told me that as well as buying the pitcher of beer that he gave me, Shaquille O'Neal had paid for the one she had brought over to me earlier & left another one behind the bar for me.

I thought that Shaq, as his friends call him, was very nice, a true gentleman & I became a big fan of him & the Magic from that point on. Shaquille O'Neal, next time we meet the beer is on me.