Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most recognizable names in NBA history. Shaq was such a dominant presence in the league that it was a forgone conclusion that he would become a household name. At his peak, Shaq was so popular, that he almost got the opportunity to deliver his signature shoes to former US President Barack Obama.
In a recent appearance on Complex’s Sneaker Shopping, Shaquille O’Neal spoke about trying to deliver his sneaker to President Obama (Slide 3). Shaq had tried meeting him once while they were in Washington but failed.
But he did get a phone call from the President. Later, when President Obama came to Phoenix, Shaq tried meeting him at the airport but didn’t get clearance, so the Phoenix mayor’s son had to give Shaq’s shoe to President Obama.
“I was in the area. I was there. What happened was I was there but I didn’t have clearance. And I didn’t want to use my powers. Because I wanted to hand-deliver him the shoe. I met him but I didn’t meet him. One time I was in DC and I tried to flex my powers. Went to the gate. ‘Hey, tell Obama Shaq is here. I showed them my police badge. They said ‘Shaq we love you’ but all this. So as I’m walking away, I get a phone call from a strange number. I say ‘hello’? It’s the president. I said ‘Mr. Obama, how’d you get my number?’. He said ‘Come on, Shaq, I’m the President’. So then, I knew he was coming to Phoenix, and I was in town, so I rushed to the airport again. ‘Hey, I know Obama is coming, just let me’… ‘Shaq, we can’t let you in. The mayor’s kid was there to give him the shoe.”
Former President Obama was known for being a huge basketball fan. He even made an appearance during Michael Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ docuseries and spoke about the impact MJ had in his hometown of Chicago. On top of that, he hosted several NBA Champions at the White House during his 8-year tenure as President.
Clearly, Shaq was important enough to get face time with the US President. And Shaq seemed to be a fan of his, as he sent him a copy of his shoe as a gift.
Perhaps we could see further interaction between the two, especially now that Barack Obama is not in the office, and won’t have the kind of security that he did during his time as president.