Shaquille O'Neal will never forget the moment he met the late great superstar Prince and saw firsthand how it feels to be around real celebrities who are even more influential than the NBA stars.
The best All-Star weekend
Being an NBA star automatically means you are a celebrity somehow, depending on how much exposure you are allowed to have in your life. Having the success, fame, and money from being an All-Star in the NBA brings a lot of spotlight on your life, and it puts you in a lot of unusual and exciting situations that rarely happen to ordinary people. That happened to Shaquille O'Neal in his second season during the All-Star weekend in Minneapolis.
In his book Shaq Talks Back, he describes the All-Star weekends as a lot of fun where all the best players get together, and usually, there are a lot of parties where you see people from all walks of life. Shaq always loved the All-Star weekend because it gave him a chance to meet new people and just enjoy the spotlight.
"The All-Star Game is always nonstop parties, and I must admit I have taken full advantage of a few. In 1994, Minnesota hosted the All-Star Game"
Prince was living large
It turned out that specific All-Star weekend was one of the favorite ones in Shaq's career because it presented him an opportunity to meet the famous musician Prince who was in Minneapolis at the same time. Not only was he in the same city, but he also organized a beauty competition that featured numerous great-looking women. Shaq was obviously there, and Prince wanted to meet him since he was an immense basketball and NBA fan.
"At the same time, Prince was having "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" contest. Prince is from Minneapolis and was in this club called the Glam Slam, upstairs, hanging there like he owned the place, which I later found out, he does. So I'm downstairs. This big guy taps me: "Prince want to see you."
What then happened is one of the wildest scenes of Shaq's early life when he actually realized what it means to be a true superstar and a celebrity. As soon as Shaq walked into the big room, he saw Prince was hanging out with numerous beautiful women who were feeding him grapes and immensely enjoying his company. Shaq saw at least 20 women who were all looking at Prince with sensation and completely ignoring him, a 7'1", a 300-pound towering figure that you don't see every day.
"I go upstairs. Prince got the finest girls I ever seen in my life, feeding him grapes, combing his hair, doing his toes. All of them were just looking at Prince. They weren't even looking at me. I guess Prince was saying he was gonna marry the most beautiful girl in the world, so he had girls from everywhere just trying to impress him. He even had some girls acting like mannequins, standing stiff the whole time. It was him and about twenty girls up there, feeding him grapes. And you thought NBA players lived large."
The scene described by Shaq seems so unreal because it sounds like something you would see in a movie, but Prince really lived that life. He was at the height of his fame during that time in the '90s and was already an icon. It's funny how Shaq initially thought being an NBA superstar makes you famous and influential, but that encounter with Prince changed his whole perspective on what rich and influential truly means.