Shaq is still peeved about his beloved Dallas Cowboys getting ousted in the playoffs.
But a few days before the AFC and NFC championship games, he offered his prescient view of who he expected to see in the Super Bowl.
“Tom Brady. I’m never betting against him. I’m not saying I think he’s gonna win (the Super Bowl), but every time I’ve bet against him, I’ve lost. He’s one of those immortal sports stars.”
It can be stated – without argument - that the 7’1” Shaquille O’Neal is his own brand of immortal from his work on the basketball court with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.
But Shaq has always been a, er, larger than life personality and he plans to showcase it at Live! At the Battery the Friday before Super Bowl 53 – starring yes, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams - with Shaq’s Fun House. The festival of frivolity will feature music from Migos, Lil Jon, Diplo, Tiesto and T-Pain as well as carnival acts (think flame throwers and sword swallowers), performers from Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystere” and food from STK Steakhouse and Waffle House.
“It’s going to be a blast,” Shaq said. “Every Super Bowl party I went to, people were just standing around. But I’m a people person, that’s what I do. I’ll be walking around, shaking hands, making sure everyone is having fun.”
In addition to glad-handing and blasting his Shaq smile, the man also known as DJ Diesel plans to spin the turntables, a skill he’s been showcasing publicly since college.
“Music has been a big part of my life since I first came to the league,” he said. “There’s only two things that bring people together in this crazy world and it’s sports and music. You can be having a terrible day and you play one of your jams and it starts to release the endorphins and you start to get back on track. Same with sports.”
Shaq experimented with the idea of a “Fun House” last year during Miami Music Week and credits a guest appearance by Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski for elevating its profile (a photo of shirtless Gronk riding the shoulders of Shaq zipped across the Internet).
The goal is to take the “Fun House” concept worldwide; this is only its second incarnation, but Shaq plans to bring his traveling circus to Africa, Canada and Morocco.
“We want to make it a worldwide brand and bring it to very important cities during important times,” said the McDonough resident, who is also a sheriff’s deputy in Clayton County in addition to his high-profile gig as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
The multi-hyphenate records his “Big Podcast with Shaq” (and with 680/93.7/The Fan host John Kincade) every week at The Battery, home to the Atlanta Braves, so staging his event on the same property will provide familiarity.
Although Shaq usually leaves the heavy detail lifting to business partners Adam Richman and Joe Silberzweig, he was thrilled with their suggestion of location.
“The greatest leaders are the ones who don’t micromanage, and I can always give them insight,” Shaq said. “They had a couple of spots in mind and I was like, nope, too small or too big. I do my podcast right across from (where the Fun House will be set up) and it’s the perfect spot. I was kinda scared to ask them if we could do it there!”
The idea of Shaq being intimated by anything is chuckle-worthy, especially given his genial personality.
When asked if he has personal relationships with the musical guests on the bill, he laughs.
“Of course! Everyone loves Shaq and Shaq loves everybody. That’s the title of my next book.”
Shaq’s Fun House
With Migos, Lil Jon, Diplo, Tiesto and T-Pain. 9 p.m. Feb. 1. All-inclusive tickets start at $399 (21 and older only). Live! At the Battery (at SunTrust Park), 825 Battery Ave. SE. shaqsfunhouse.com.
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