For most Boston Celtics fans, Monday's tired effort against a younger New Jersey Nets squad was no real fun to watch, as the C's lost and dropped to a tie with the Chicago Bulls for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
But for a small chunk of that team's fandom, a surprise visit from the team eventual starting center made the loss much easier to sit through. Because Shaquille O'Neal dropped into a Boston-area nursing home to spread some cheer. And delicious, delicious pizza.
From a Celtics press release:
"Shaq's visit truly brightened the spirits of everyone at Spaulding North End and is something that will mean a great deal to all of us for a very long time," said Spaulding Rehabilitation Network President David Storto. "We want to thank Shaq and the Boston Celtics organization for being so generous with their time and supporting the community in such a meaningful way."
Shaq made the visit in response to fan mail that he had received from an elderly man.
"It makes me happy to see the smiles and laughter of the great fans of the Boston Celtics," O'Neal said. "One of the patients at the home had been an elevator operator at the TD Garden for over 40 years and she told me stories about Red Auerbach riding in her elevator."
O'Neal brought the pizza pie and shared the evening with 30 patients, ranging from ages 13 to 102. Though the Celtics folded in his absence by an 88-79 score against the Nets, the presence of the Big Goofball must have made the loss easier to take in for the residents. It would be nice to see Shaq (who has played just 43 combined minutes since Jan. 21) return to action as the Celtics prepare for a stretch drive, but in terms of using his rehabilitation time wisely, this ranks as pretty darn cool.
You are now allowed to make jokes about the NBA's oldest player and his time spent in a nursing home.