Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston
Shaquille O'Neal sits with fans in Harvard Square.CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Delivering on a promise he made earlier this month, Shaquille O'Neal utilized Boston's final preseason offday to invade Harvard Square, where he posed as a statue, allowing fans to snap photos with him for nearly an hour Thursday afternoon.
O'Neal, clad in jeans and a black-hooded sweatshirt, arrived in Harvard Square at 2 p.m. After a quick pit stop inside Au Bon Pain, where workers looked up in shock from their registers, O'Neal crossed Dunster St. and plopped down on a bench between the Harvard Square MBTA station and Out of Town News.
Fans immediately encircled him and, despite the jostling for position to take pictures next to him, the 15-time NBA All-Star simply clasped his hands together and remained stoic as fans shuttled in and out around him. O'Neal couldn't help but smile at times, but didn't budge until he stood up to leave.
Shellie Dean of Dorchester (pictured above, over Shaq's left shoulder) got a Tweet from a friend notifying her that O'Neal was on his way to Harvard Square. Working at nearby Cambridge Trust Company, she rushed out when his Superman-stamped van pulled up (and a crowd formed) and secured her place at the front of the line.
"When he went into Au Bon Pain, we just kinda followed him," said Dean, who laughed while showing off her photos to those stuck at the back of the line. "I didn't think I'd get to meet him, but we were so close and we were ready."
O'Neal announced his intentions to become a human statue during a radio appearance on the Toucher & Rich morning show on 98.5 the Sports Hub and those intrigued have been waiting for him to Tweet the date it would occur.
About a half hour before his appearance, he sent a message about his stunt, bringing a flurry of foot traffic to the already bustling Harvard Square. The crowd only grew after O'Neal's arrival.
Missing were his teammates, who could only shake their heads when informed of O'Neal's plan earlier this month.
"What's he going to do?" asked Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "He's just going to sit there?" Somebody get a picture of that and Tweet it."
It's likely thousands did. Camera phones were snapping away nonstop during O'Neal's visit.
When Kevin Garnett was asked if he'd come out for the festivities, he playfully scoffed at the idea.
"Absolutely not," said Garnett. "I will not be taking pictures of Shaq with bird [expletive] and all types of other people taking pictures. I'm cool. I see him in here; I'll take my pictures around here."
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