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Shaq Cracks Them Up (and That's Just the Media)

By George Thomas Published: October 1, 2009

So this is what it's going to be like?
Shaquille O'Neal came to the North Coast with the reputation of being funny, the prankster, the court jester if you will.
But the media - including yours truly - experienced it first hand Thursday afternoon.
It's the first time reporters got a chance to talk to Shaq since media day Monday.  Scott Raab, a former Clevelander and writer for Esquire magazine who is planning to write a book about the upcoming season, is portly with wavy, long silver hair combed backward and a beard to match.  Shaq greeted him but two words stood out - Santa Claus. 
It only got better from there - for some.  As O'Neal deftly answered questions ranging from how in-shape he is to his summer TV series, the subject of Twitter came up because David Stern recently enacted restrictions on the text message-based social networking site. Shaq helped to popularize it.  In fact, he used it just this week to solicit suggestions for what he should be for Halloween.
When asked if he'd gotten any, he said no.  That's when yours truly opened  his big mouth and said "Have you considered going as Shrek."
He gave the hilarious answer you might expect:  "I already look like him, so I don't want to go as him."
But as he was walking away, I said: "It's a costume that's always worked for me."
He drifted behind and said:  "You're trying to be funny, big guy?"
He then promptly grabbed two handsful of my gut.  Got the biggest laugh of the the day.
Yes, there were plenty left over for a third hand.

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