Shaquille O’Neal continues to represent hip-hop every chance he gets. On Sunday night in Phoenix, O’Neal made one of the , bringing out the world famous dance troop the [url id="/ontv/dyn/dance_crew_season_1/crews.jhtml?crew=jabbawockeez"]Jabbawockeez[/url] (of MTV’s [url id="/ontv/dyn/dance_crew_season_1/series.jhtml"]“America’s Best Dance Crew”[/url]) during his introduction at the showcase of his sport’s brightest superstars.
The Wockeez, all suited up in dapper gray suits and their trademark masks, surrounded “The Big Shaqtus” (get it? Arizona, known for the cactus), who was wearing all white and his own mask as he popped and locked to the music of [artist id="1000"]Nas[/artist]‘ “Hero.”
Over the years at the All-Star Game, and even during the regular season, fans have seen Shaq’s dancing skills (he’s had public dance-offs with LeBron James and Dwight Howard), but this felt way more grand — a very welcome homage to the days of breakdancing, with a little Shaq-Fu funk.
“Shaq was hilarious,” laughed [artist id="1998098"]T-Pain[/artist], who always incorporates dance into his performances. “He’s an entertainer. The Jabbawockeez mask was classic. Shaq made the All-Star game [even more special], and him winning the co-MVP was just the icing on the cake.”
“I thought it was hot and a lot more fun than just the usual way they come out,” said [artist id="450135"]Jermaine Dupri[/artist], who got his start as a backup dancer for the classic group, [artist id="19003"]Whodini[/artist].
“We saw Dwight Howard last year doing the Superman dance when he won the Slam Dunk Contest,” Dupri recalled. “And now Nate Robinson did it this year [at the dunk contest]. I think Shaq might have started something [for the All-Star Game].”
MTV’s own “Dances From Tha Hood” host Tweetie thought Shaq’s appearance was “funny as hell.”
“It’s funny to see somebody that big and actually be nice at dancing,” Tweetie said. “I’m not mad at him. There’s not really much you can go into. It was a dope idea. You don’t expect something like that from Shaq. Only he could pull it off.
“It’s fresh,” Tweetie added. “It brings something else. It brings something fresh and new to the All-Star Game. The Jabbawockeez are very relevant right now. They represent well. Some crews get big and they change. If they do change, it’s for the better. They always tell a story. They can be so expressive without you having to see their faces. They have a dope energy about them. I loved that Shaq had his own mask.”
Tweetie also loved the size disparity between O’Neal and his partners.
“They looked like little hobbits compared to Shaq, who is so big and so tall,” she said. “It’s having fun — dance doesn’t have to be so serious. It was funny as hell to see him pull his pants off and use it as a cape. They did the chest pops. It was really dope. I got scared when Shaq started kicking his leg up like he was going knock somebody down.”
The 37-year-old center for the Phoenix Suns said that Sunday’s showcase could very well be his last All-Star appearance, so he wanted to make an impact.
“I wanted to do something a little different and unique,” the vet told ESPN. “I realized that this may possibly be my last one, so I wanted to make it memorable for myself and the fans.”
Mission accomplished. In addition to his dancing, O’Neal also showed off his pipes, singing Billy Ocean’s “Carribean Queen” during a taped skit with the players.
Hey, Shaq, when your career is over, “Dancing With the Stars” seems like a foregone conclusion.