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Posted on Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Dave!After reading a nifty story about two guys getting to meet Shaquille O'Neal because of Twitter, I was reminded of my own encounter with Shaq, and had to Google my blog to see if I had written about it yet. Google says "did not match any documents" so I guess not.

Back in the 1990's, Planet Hollywood wasn't satisfied with over-saturating the market with their own eateries, so they developed another chain to dilute their customer base even further... The Official All-Star Cafe. It was the sports-themed alternative to the movie-themed Planet Hollywood and the music-themed Hard Rock Cafe that was endorsed by Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Ken Griffey Jr., Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, and (you guessed it) Shaquille O'Neal.

While working in New York sometime in 1995 or 96, I noticed an All-Star Cafe had opened in Times Square and decided to check it out. I'm kind of a theme-restaurant whore, and wanted to see what a 13 million dollar cafe looked like. Unfortunately, there was a long line of kids waiting to get it, so I decided to just sneak a look at the merchandise shop and eat lunch somewhere else. But once I got inside, I noticed almost all of the tables were empty. There were more kids lined up inside, but nobody appeared to be eating. I asked the hostess how long the wait was, and was immediately seated at a tiny two-seater table next to a stage of some kind. My veggie burger and Coke arrived almost instantly, which was nice, but I was uncomfortable eating it because the line of obnoxious kids was just six feet away watching my every move.

And then the room exploded.

I had just taken a bite and still had my burger to my mouth when a commotion started up behind me. Before I could even turn around and see what was going on, my chair was bumped into... hard. I was pushed into the table and my burger was knocked out of my hands. All the while, kids were going nuts around me.

That's when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see a GIANT MAN saying "Sorry about that. You okay, man?"

After I nodded to him in the affirmative, I felt him give my shoulder a squeeze, then watched as Shaquille O'Neal went out the door... awash in screaming kids who were holding up basketballs to be autographed.

I had just been Shaqed!

The two things I took away from the experience were this. 1) Shaq is huge. Massively huge. However big you think he is, take that number and double it. 2) Shaq has good manners. Even though he was being mobbed, he took time to apologize for having bumped into me when it wasn't even his fault... he was just trying to get through the crowd.

Not much of a story, really. But considering I spent most of my time sick in bed, I suppose it's better than telling you about my day.

Categories: Travel 2009Click To It: Permalink


  1. Jacki says:

    Well I liked the story. You always hear the negative ones – but people often forget to mention the positives!

  2. Dude. That? Was awesome.

    I’ve met the guy who played Jaws in the Roger Moore Bond movies. He’s huge, too. The hand thing? I completely understand.

    Thanks for sharing the story!

  3. B.E. Earl says:

    I’ve never heard anything but great things about Shaq from a number of people who have met him. And about how huge he is.

    I met Andre the Giant once. Well, met as in he walked right by me on the way to the wrestling ring…about one foot away from me. I was with the center of my High School basketball team who was huge. 6’7″ easy. And he was dwarfed by Andre. Height, weight…everything. Huge. Like you said about Shaq. You had to double it.

  4. Tug says:

    I read that too, so since I’m going to Phoenix in April, I started following Shaq – heh. Hey, you never know. 😉

    So I know the twitterverse convinced you to go home today – but have you seen a doctor? I may have missed it…feel better!!

  5. I know what you mean. I found myself standing next to Bill Clinton a few years ago, and I thought the same thing. He’s as tall as you imagine him to be, plus a head.

  6. Avitable says:

    You left out the most important detail – was your food okay?!??! People need to know!

  7. Robin says:

    Wow – I remember that place. But i’ll do you one better – remember the Fashion Cafe? The Fashion Cafe was even worse than the All-Star Cafe and Planet Hollywood.

    ::cowers because she was a bit of a theme restaurant whore back in the day…::

  8. ajooja says:

    My wife had an experience like that with Chuck Berry (in fact, it was at Blueberry Hill where we had DaveLouis).

    Of course, knowing Berry’s past, he took the opportunity to paw my lovely wife a little when he apologized. 🙂

  9. Rick says:

    I had a similar experience with Oprah Winfrey, back in the day. Plunked her ham-hands on my shoulders and asked, “Whut’s up?” as the deadline for the 5 o’clock news lingered. “Deadline.” I said, without turning around. I’m told, she, too, is twice as big as you think.

  10. martymankins says:

    Great story.

    I kind of figured Shaq was a nice guy as I’ve heard similar stories from others that have met him saying he was cordial and pleasant.

  11. diane says:

    I like stories about people being well-mannered, so I am satisfied by this entry. 🙂

  12. Sybil Law says:

    Well, I liked the story. But pics of you might’ve been nice (even sick, you’re cute in bed, I am sure!)! Think of your fans, Dave! 😀

  13. kapgar says:

    I’ve always heard really decent things about Shaq as a man. Good to hear it’s real.

  14. Sam says:

    that sounds like a good name for a short film: “The Guy Who Shaqed Me.”

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