Jack Nicholson at Staples Center. Kevin Hart at Wells Fargo Center. Spike Lee at MSG. Drake at Scotiabank Arena, or wherever his bandwagonism takes him. You get the pattern; celebrities and NBA games go hand-in-hand.
Actors, artists, models, retired athletes, you name ’em—you see so many famous faces catching games courtside. And while most of them enjoy the game in peace, the fidgety nature of others results in some epic celebrity-players interactions. Like Reggie Miller giving Spike Lee a choke sign. Or Rihanna’s back-and-forth with Kevin Durant during the ’17 NBA Finals. Or Kevin Hart talking smack to James Harden followed up by ten straight points by The Beard.
Players feed off such interactions, as they have a huge impact on their on-court performance. Shaq has his own version of celebrity impacting his game, but no interaction was needed for this one.
I was playing against the New York Knicks, and I’m at the free-throw line, and I see this girl walking down the aisle, and I’m like ‘she looks like- oh my god, it is Halle Berry.’ I call a time out, and I go to the bench.Shaquille O’Neal, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Like a little boy acting cool in front of a girl he likes, O’Neal made it his mission to impress an Oscar-winning Hollywood superstar. Diesel exercised his star power, monopolizing Berry’s attention for the entirety of the contest.
I said, ‘Halle Berry’s at the game! Anybody shoots beside me; I’m punching you in your face. Halle Berry is here to watch me play the game. Give it to me.’ And it was one of my best games I ever had. Every time I got the ball, I would look to make sure Halle was looking at me, and I just destroyed Patrick Ewing.”Shaquille O’Neal, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
One of his best games ever, playing at MSG, destroying Patrick Ewing – Shaq’s 43-point performance in ’00 fits those descriptions. He led the Lakers to a 92-85 win over the Knicks, outscoring Ewing by 31 points. In their head-to-head matchups, that’s the highest-scoring performance by either of the two iconic big men. And Halle Berry gets the credit for it, as she remains the ultimate Shaq muse.