Needless to say, this past weekend was one of MAJOR excitement for “The City Beautiful,” aka Orlando, FL. If, for some reason, you are way out of the loop and have not heard, it was All-Star Weekend. The NBA 2012 All-Star Game took place on Feb. 26 at 7:30pm at the Amway Center, the home of our beloved Orlando Magic. As a student living in Orlando and as an employee at the Mall at Millenia, I was able to experience the chaos first hand. Celebrities and all-star athletes were roaming the streets of Orlando, and, of course, with that came an influx of tourists, and not too far behind them, the Orlando natives also tagged along.
With so many “influential” people gathering to one place, the press is bound to follow and keep a keen eye out for any newsworthy and controversial material. Shaquille O’Neal can attest to this. On Saturday (the day before the All-Star Game), Shaq ran into a little incident that may damage the public’s opinion about him. It was practically impossible for me not to make a sort of pun for the title of my article. After all, this truly is a “PR” Disaster for Shaq, in more than one way.
Allegedly, Shaquille O’Neal made a comment disrespecting the land of Puerto Rico (PR, get it now?) and its entire people. The whole issue is still in debate right now regarding whether he actually said the comment or if it is just a fabrication on the reporter’s side; regardless whether the statement is true or not, this will undeniably cause a public relations (the second PR) disaster for Shaq.
It all started when Emilio Pérez, a Puerto Rican sports talk show personality, approached Shaq for a picture, after the body guard granted him access, of course. Shaq refused, and Emilio insisted that it would just be a quick picture for his fans in Puerto Rico, to which Shaq got even more irritated and refused again and was later said to make some comments regarding Emilio Pérez. The reporter commented on Shaq’s behavior and advised that his attitude could lose him some of his fans in Puerto Rico, to which Shaq replied with the following comment which made this situation the controversy it is:
“I do not need new fans, I have already enough money in the bank … and in fact, what the hell is Puerto Rico … if just a simple place just over ¼ of an inch on the map. I’m not interested and do not affect me.” – Shaquille O’Neal
Apparently this incident happened in the hallway backstage, and there are people who say they witnessed the event happening. Shaquille did not deny the event happening, however he says it was completely different than how it is being portrayed and that he did not “diss” Puerto Rico at all, but just a “fat obnoxious writer.” This comment still isn’t helping the situation, if you ask me. He was tweeted many times regarding the incident, but nothing has been proven or disproven so far.
Many fans from Puerto Rico are raging about the incident and expressing their anger towards Shaq and his comment about Puerto Rico. As a person of Puerto Rican heritage, I find myself offended, but at the same time a little skeptic on exactly what happened during this incident. Unfortunately, as it is still a recent event in the news, we will have to just sit back and wait and see what results of this situation. But, I’m sure this incident is causing a bit of a headache to the poor PR people in charge of his public image. In spite of whether the statement is accurate or not, it is still causing a lot of negative reactions and publicity.