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Friday, September 29, 2023

Spencer Pylant remembers watching the NBA championship game in 2006.

The Miami Heat had won four out of six games against the Dallas Mavericks. He remembers Shaquille O'Neal's drive and push.

"It's amazing the way he smashes and drives toward the basket," said Pylant, 23, a second-year management graduate student. "He does whatever it takes to get the ball in the hoop."

O'Neal is an actor, media personality and rapper.

He is pursuing his Ph.D. at Barry University and has served as a reserve officer in Los Angeles and Miami Beach.

He's also a famous basketball player.

Tonight at 8, O'Neal will speak to students and the public in a moderated conversation at the O'Connell Center.

Admission is free.

Accent Speakers Bureau is paying him $70,000 to speak.

"We're bringing him because he is not only a sports icon but a [NBA] legend," said Corey Portnoy, Accent chairman and a political science senior.

O'Neal will talk about his sports career, what it's like to be Shaq, his entertainment career and life after 19 years in the NBA.

He was a member of four NBA championship teams, and he was voted NBA Most Valuable Player in 2000 and NBA Rookie of the Year in 1993.

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In July, he signed a contract to be an NBA analyst on TNT.

"A lot of students are fans of his," Portnoy said. "So many students from UF are from the Miami area, and he played for the Heat."

Portnoy expects about 3,000 people to attend.

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