Shaquille O’Neal made a short appearance but a lasting impression during halftime of Syracuse’s 78-53 win over Fordham in its season opener Saturday afternoon.
Shortly after being introduced O’Neal lifted SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor over his head. He then closed his halftime remarks by telling the 22,906 on hand that “Georgetown sucks!” which delighted the crowd even more.
He also inspired players in the game, including Syracuse center Fab Melo.
In the days leading up to games, Melo watches videos of elite basketball big men including Dennis Rodman and Hakeem Olajuwon. O’Neal is also in his video queue.
“He’s definitely an inspiration,” Melo said. “He’s big. I’m glad he retired so I never have to worry about him.”
Perhaps Shaq would be the one worried about Melo after the SU center had four points, four blocks, four rebounds and two assists, while showing his improved agility on the court.
“I don’t think he’s ever seen a 7-footer move like (me),” Melo said, jokingly.
The three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and four-time NBA Champion was on hand to deliver a public service announcement for the Century Council’s “Stupid Drink” promotion.
The goal of the initiative is to promote responsible drinking. The “Stupid Drink” is the one that occurs between being in control and out of control, according to the program’s authors.
Corey Mallonee contributed to this story with reporting from Syracuse.