I love all the big-time sporting events. I enjoy the World Cup, though it is a bit too nationalistic, and the Olympics, which is way too nationalistic. I love golf’s British Open and the Super Bowl (though it is way way WAY too commercial).
I watch the Kentucky Derby and all their silly hats. I am probably one of about a dozen people who still enjoys the World Series.
At the head of the list, for me, is “The Championships,” also known as Wimbledon. I love the pomp, the tradition and the genteelness. I love the grass courts, players in all-white outfits, the way the players are marched out for each match, and yes – the Royal Box.
Last year Britain had their first male champion in three quarters of a century – Andy Murray.
This year, of course, Murray fills the role of ‘returning champion,’ and was thunderously applauded by the home fans as he entered Centre Court for his first match. He waived to the crowd in response and acknowledged those in the Royal Box.
So who was in the Royal Box? The usual: dignitaries, luminaries, friends of the royalty, members of the royal family and, of course, Shaq – Shaquille O’Neal.
At first I was humored by this, the 325 pound Shaq so seemingly incongruous at an event dominated by the quick and the slender, but … but…. maybe I need to adjust my thinking.
Shaq is not the oaf he is made out to be. He is light-hearted and self-effacing. He is gracious and very graceful for a big-big man. He is an astute business man, much smarter than people think he is. He is an extremely snappy dresser and can pull off a distinguished air (honestly).
So why NOT Shaq? He represents the U.S. as well as anyone can.
Stand tall, Shaq. I forgive you for all the time you spent with the Lakers.