June 3, 2005


Shaq says arrangements are made for Mikan's funeral expenses (AP, June 3, 2005)

The family of George Mikan accepted Shaquille O'Neal's offer to pay for the late center's funeral expenses.

O'Neal said arrangements were finalized Friday. ``Everything's going to be handled,'' O'Neal said.

Mikan, the NBA's first dominant big man, died Wednesday night at a rehabilitation center in Scottsdale, Ariz., following a long fight with diabetes and kidney ailments. He was 80.

O'Neal said he greatly enjoyed getting to know and speak with Mikan on several occasions. Shortly after the Heat beat Detroit 88-76 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night, O'Neal said he would like to handle the funeral costs.

``I heard they were having some trouble, some problems, so if you contact the Heat office, I would like to pay for the funeral,'' O'Neal said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2005 5:24 PM

One thing I've heard about Shaq is that when he meets people he doesn't just say "Hello" -- he's been known to stay and talk to folks for a long time, particularly the elderly. I suppose this is his way of respecting his basketball elders.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 3, 2005 6:13 PM

he was a sherrifs deputy in l.a.

Posted by: cjm at June 3, 2005 6:28 PM

Class act, indeed.

In a similar vein, Major League Baseball supports an organized charity called the "Baseball Assistance Team" that I don't think is well known. From the website: "The primary objective of the Baseball Assistance Team is to aid those members of the 'baseball family' most in need. B.A.T. strives to provide a means of support to people who are unable to help themselves. Through charitable contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals, B.A.T. is there to assist those with financial, psychological or physical burdens." (http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/official_info/community/bat.jsp?content=info) Also: "Created in 1986, BAT provides help to former players in need. In that first year, three beneficiaries were helped by a total of $12,000. Since, more than 1,700 have been touched by this angel, for a total exceeding $12 million.(http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/official_info/community/bat.jsp)

About eight-ten years ago, I was twice privileged to attend the annual BAT fundraising dinner as a guest of Sports Illustrated. Before the formal dinner, guests are given a baseball and can approach our heroes for their signature. I was nervous as a ten year old when I asked, "Mr, Koufax, may I please have your autograph?" One year I was seated at the dinner table next to the great pitcher Bob Gibson, someone else I have long respected. Gibson was the MVP in the seven game 1967 World Series when he beat the famous "Impossible Dream" Red Sox three times.
Thirty years later Gibson was as tough as ever, with an imposing presence and a love of argument. Somewhere I have a photo of him and I in a heated exchange that we both thought we won.

Posted by: Jim Siegel at June 3, 2005 6:37 PM

Shaq is probably the most generous and least public do-gooder in professional sports. When I lived in LA, I heard all kinds of stories of his dropping in unannounced at hospitals, kids' parties, etc....always without an entourage and always without Lakers' P.R. people or reporters in tow...

Posted by: Foos at June 3, 2005 7:06 PM

I think he was a Port of LA police auxilary, not sherriffs deputy? Anybody know for sure?

I had no idea he hung out with Mikan. Ted Williams used to hang with some of the young guys too. Very cool to see a modern star give props to the older guys.

Posted by: JAB at June 3, 2005 7:15 PM

I guess Sahq is a conservative at heart.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 3, 2005 11:48 PM