It’s not every day that a sports legend shows up to your hotel room to briefly chat about video games and then try to eat your head. While Shaq might not have actually eaten anyone, you could be forgiven for mistaking the above gesture as something other than a friendly kiss.
The former NBA player, who just last month was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, was attending TwitchCon for the “Bud Light All-Stars Bash” event in which professional gamers take on celebrities like Shaq and Snoop Dogg to help sell beer.
Prior to going down to the convention show floor, however, Shaq took it upon himself to visit two of his newest colleagues. As an investor in NRG eSports, a competitive gaming organization that fields teams in a number of different games, Shaq now has a business relationship with with RuneScape streamer, Ice_Poseidon, and Super Smash Bros. pro, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, both of whom were recently signed with NRG eSports.
The man, whose lifetime performance on the basketball court was so dominant it earned him the nickname “Superman,” talked video games (“Coleco was one of them...”) and computers (“Is it a PC or Mac?”), among other things. Unfortunately, Shaq didn’t have time to stick around and actually play any games for the people watching the stream back home.
That’s when Goldbeat79 typed what everyone else was thinking into the Twitch chat, “THEY HAVENT PLAYED DOUBLES YET WTF.” (Doubles is a mode in Super Smash Bros., the game NRG eSports signed Nairo to play competetively for them). As someone else put it, “WAITED 2HOURS FOR 5MINUTE OF SHAQ LUL.”
Shaq, being the savvy all-star that he is, knew the only way to save the short visit from being a total bust was to go for Nairo’s jugular and plant a few kisses on his head to mark the occasion. Is it possible, as a few people watching the stream suggested, that Shaq’s bold manuever was actually a sly nod to the “flame choke,” one of Ganondorf’s special attacks from Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Does it matter?
Despite retiring from the NBA back in 2011, Shaq has been keeping busy, most recently by trying to leverage his athletic achievements and celebrity charisma in the alternate world of esports. These efforts have included not only tweeting his support for the various NRG eSports teams, including its League of Legends squad, as well as doing lots of promotional work for ELEAGUE, an outfit that runs competitive gaming leagues and tournaments for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive among others.
In recent months, NRG eSports have been signing almost any team they can get their hands on, including the most recent addition of Rocket League’s Kings of Urban. A lot of former NBA teams and former players have gotten into the esports game, like the Philadelphia 76ers, who recently acquired a controlling stake in Team Dignitas. But last time I checked, Joshua Harris, the owner of the 76ers, has yet to welcome them into the family with a loving choke hold.