NBA superstar center Shaquille O'Neal poses with Abbot Shi Yongxin during his visit to the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, Henan province, yesterday. [Chen Gengsheng]
Shaquille O'Neal can't stop smiling, making faces or dancing to hip-hop every chance he gets.
On Sunday in Beijing, he moved like he did when he amazed the world before last season's NBA all-star game. This time he thrilled a media throng and fans in the studio of CCTV.com as well as Xidan, one of the capital city's busiest shopping and commercial hubs.
As one of the greatest players in NBA all-star history, the giant center surprised all when he showed off his famous Jabbawockeez dance during his introduction before the all-stars match in Phoenix.
Organizers in Beijing tried to emulate his all-star performance with a group of dancers sporting white masks who invited O'Neal to join them, a fitting way to hail the hoops champion's off-court talents.
According to a public poll on sports.cctv.com, a majority of fans cite dancing as the No 1 reason they fancy O'Neal rather than his well honed slam dunk or healthy sense of humor.
All-star center Shaquille O'Neal performs the Chinese folk dance Yangge with a dancer during his China tour for domestic sportswear company Li Ning in Beijing. Inset: O'Neal joins in a Peking Opera show, traditional Chinese drama with singing and martial arts. [Chen Xiangfeng]
"I thought it would be my constant joking," laughed O'Neal on his fourth trip to China.
"But it's great to show something special for fans in China. I'm so happy to be here again. I love China and I love Chinese people. I even saw the faces of some fans I met before."
Chinese fans were carried away, cheering hysterically as O'Neal appeared again in China, on behalf of his sportswear partner Li Ning.
As China's leading domestic sports outfit producer, it also brought other contracted stars in Los Angeles Clippers' all-star guard Baron Davis and Toronto Raptors' guard Jose Calderon to take part in the tour.
O'Neal also relished the chance to perform the traditional Chinese folk dance Yangge in which dancers hold a red ribbon around their waist and swing it to music.
(China Daily July 14, 2009)