The Millenium Goliath: "I'm Going to Bring a Championship To Miami. I Promise."

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Over 3,000 screaming fans lined up as much as three and a half hours before Shaq's arrival. They were in for a four-hour treat. They cheered and laughed at Shaq's stand-up comedy routine as he was ostensibly introduced to the media last night. Always a funny guy, Shaq delivered some one-liners and some sustained routines, including opening with his own personal rendition of "Hail to the Chief," in the literally red-carpet event which included his receiving keys to the city of Miami and the county of Miami-Dade. Let's hope he wasn't joking when he delivered his most important words to Miami: a promise of a championship.

You have to read some of his quips. Just click herefor a good list. There are too many to repeat but let me just mention my favorite:"This is a classic Shaquille O'Neal quote - Write it down, underline it or memorize it. When you put a bunch of old lions with young lions, the old lion can do two things: run away and be old or be young like the young lions. I hope that makes sense."That's absolutely brilliant. I've read it maybe a dozen times and I still laugh. Shaq is the best. When oh when will Shaq be on the Simpsons?

Will Shaq indeed bring a championship to Miami? He admits he can't do it himself, referring back to his Orlando days (though he did bring them to the Finals). He has dubbed Miami Dwyane Wade's team, saying Wade should be an All-Star and Eddie Jones should be in the three-point contest. He is offering to help recruit free agents. Everybody wants to play with Shaq. Karl Malone is still being rumored.

But will Shaq bring a championship to Miami? Perhaps if he continues to play like a young lion, and everybody else runs away. We all hope that makes sense.

Here are some selected questions and answers from an interviewwith the Miami Heat's Eric Woolworth that I found interesting in terms of the impact Shaq will have on ticket sales:

On a scale of one to 10, how big is this?
A twelve.

Because of the arrival of Shaquille, are ticket prices going to change?
We are not raising our season ticket prices, they have been published since February when we did our residuals and we are not going to go back and raise those ticket prices. We have not yet published our individual game prices, the rates were going to go up a bit anyway.

What kind of Shaq merchandise is coming out?
As of last night, Shaq jerseys were available on our web site. In the first two hours we sold 400.

How much are they?
55 dollars.

Are the mini-plans still available?
At the moment we are just selling season tickets. 

What are you doing with the ticket scalpers trying to buy large quantities of tickets, and what have you done with that?
We have limited it to 20 season tickets per buyer, because we have had buyers asking for 400 tickets in a package.

Are there plans to open the upper balcony seats for every game?
If the demand is there, then the balconies will be open.

What is the sell out number now with the top seats being uncovered?

Can you sell standing room?
Yes, the highest number we have had in the arena is 20,286. It seats 19,600 with the balconies open and 16,500 with them closed.


Harvey Fialkov ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Heat President Pat Riley said he could finally cross off the top item on his lifetime to-do list: Find Shaquille... After charming more than 3,000 fans, mostly screaming summer campers, on the outside steps of AmericanAirlines Arena, O'Neal pulled out his A material to entertain the media circus at center court inside the arena on a dais that included Riley, coach Stan Van Gundy, O'Neal's agent Perry Rogers and manager Michael Parris. "I told my wife when I was rolling up, I felt like the president," he said before humming Hail to the Chief. O'Neal said the over-the-top welcoming committee had nothing to do with basketball: "That's just because I'm sexy."

Sarah Talalay ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: The Diesel arrived via diesel Tuesday, stopped traffic on Biscayne Boulevard, doused fans with a plastic water cannon, and strode up a red carpet and into South Florida's welcoming arms on the steps of AmericanAirlines Arena.Fans began arriving at 9 a.m. Tuesday -- 31/2 hours before new Heat center Shaquille O'Neal's grand entrance in an 18-wheeler that read "Diesel Power" -- and just as the morning rain subsided. O'Neal would have been their umbrella anyhow.

Ethan J. Skolnick ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Tuesday, South Florida sports changed forever. It became funnier and fresher. It became bigger and bolder. It became more national. And more naked. "I just bought a house on the beach and my wife lets me walk naked on the beach. I'm going to be in very, very top physical shape."South Florida sports became Shaquille O'Neal, for however long he's here and no matter how few clothes he wears.

Dave Hyde ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Before Shaquille O'Neal promised to walk naked down a South Florida beach, before he asked a reporter to kiss his big toe -- even before he emerged to South Florida, shooting a giant water gun at fans -- there were 2,000 screaming kids bused in from summer camps like movie extras. There was a red carpet laid from Biscayne Boulevard up the concourse stairs outside AmericanAirlines Arena.There were four South Florida television stations broadcasting live. There was a plane overhead pulling the sign, "The Love Shaq Is Back." (Back?) 

The South Florida Sun-Sentinellists several choice quips by Shaq. Click here.

Chris Perkins ofThe Palm Beach Postwrites: It wasn't 10 minutes into Shaquille O'Neal's formal introduction to South Florida fans that he made the guarantee."Remember this," he told an estimated 3,000 fans outside AmericanAirlines Arena. "I'm going to bring a championship to Miami. I promise." This was after "The Diesel" rolled up to AmericanAirlines Arena as a front-seat passenger in an 18-wheeler with his likeness emblazoned on the side. This was also after about a dozen television news trucks left, four television news helicopters left, and after O'Neal entertained the crowd with witty one-liners, and got keys to both the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Shaquille O'Neal arrived in Miami in grand fashion Tuesday, emerging from a semi-truck adorned with a ''Diesel Powered'' banner, then stepping out onto a red carpet at the steps of AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami to the drumbeat of enthusiastic applause and loud cheers.The Heat's newest acquisition, who has dominated sports headlines around the country the past week, made his Miami debut, holding a sort of rally for a few thousand fans who braved humid temperatures and rainy weather to greet the new giant. O'Neal was given keys to the county and city by Mayors Manny Diaz (City of Miami) and Alex Penelas (Miami-Dade County), then proceeded to tell fans to get ready.