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Eric Freeman

Shaquille O'Neal will 'conduct' the Boston Pops

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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In a league where most stars are basketball obsessives, Shaquille O'Neal(notes) has always stood out as having a wider range of interests. Between his loves of acting, rapping, law enforcement, comedy and reality television, Shaq has dabbled in more fields than most famous people have dreamed of.

Next Monday, he'll add another entertainment accomplishment to the list: conductor of the Boston Pops. From the Associated Press:

Shaquille O'Neal will climb the podium, put on his tailcoat and white tie and lead the orchestra in Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride" during a concert Monday night at Symphony Hall.

The Boston Celtics' 7-foot-1 center will participate in a program otherwise conducted by Keith Lockhart focusing on Christmas and holiday-season music.

We should probably use the term "conduct" loosely here -- I don't know much about "Sleigh Ride," but I would guess that the Boston Pops can play it without the assistance of a novice conductor. My prediction is that he'll wave the baton around with mock seriousness before biting it. If that won't bring the laffs, I don't know what will.

But while I feel the need to mock Shaq, it's also worth noting that his appearance with the orchestra will likely bring more attention to an art form typically neglected by anyone who hasn't been retired for a decade. He's doing important work, even if it's a little goofy. As usual with Shaq, his need for attention is tied to a willingness to help others.

Incidentally, it turns out that the Keith Lockhart in question is not the retired MLB infielder, but rather one of the most respected orchestral conductors in the world. The more you know!

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