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THE INSIDE TRACK | SUNDAY SCENE / THOMAS BONK

And Remember, You Can't Spell O'Neal Without L.A.

June 30, 1996|THOMAS BONK

What will it take to bring Shaquille O'Neal to Los Angeles? Yes, an airplane, but what else?

Besides a multimillion-dollar contract to play for the Lakers, it seems pretty clear Shaq ought to realize right now that moving his base of operations to Los Angeles makes a lot of sense.

Somebody needs to put it all down in a list and in plain words to explain why he should be here.

1. Shaq loves Manhattan Beach, which isn't that far from the Forum. Of course, neither is Inglewood. But Shaq's agent, Leonard Armato, has a beautiful home on the beach at Manhattan Beach and Shaq can stay with him while house hunting.

Plus, Shaq can also practice his free throws at Manhattan Beach. From the pier, he can see if he can hit the ocean.

2. Shaq needs to be closer to the movie industry. His acting career began in "Blue Chips" and continues with the July 17 Touchstone Pictures release of "Kazaam," in which Shaq plays a 3,000-year-old genie who is released from a battered boombox. This is the actual plot.

Shaq begins filming a Warner Brothers project called "Steel" on Aug. 7. It's based on a DC comic book character named John Henry Irons, the first African American superhero. Shaq came up with the idea himself and is co-producing the movie with Quincy Jones.

3. Shaq needs to be closer to the music industry. After all, he is busy launching his new Santa Monica-based record label, called TWISM Records, which stands for This World IS Mine.

Shaq's third album will be released by TWISM this summer, but he's also on the lookout for new artists. Shaq already has signed a new group comprising three sisters and called S.H.E.

Shaq said S.H.E. sounded good to H.I.M.

4. Shaq will feel right at home on the freeways. At last count, he had a Chevy Suburban, a Mercedes sedan, a Porsche Carrera and a Chevy Tahoe. Shaq loves cars. California insurance companies are going to absolutely adore him.

5. Shaq loves club sandwiches and fettucine alfredo. Not on the same plate, of course. You just know he can find lots of that stuff here. Noted connoisseur George Raveling suggests the delightful club sandwich at Kate Mantilini on Wilshire. As for fettucine alfredo, there may be none finer than that found at Chianti on Melrose.

What's more, one of Shaq's all-time favorite restaurants is Georgia, also on Melrose, which features so-called "high-end southern" cooking, such as smothered lamb chops, cornmeal mush and black-eyed peas. Norm Nixon is a co-owner. Celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Connie Stevens, Lou Adler and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are investors and they're just the type of company Shaq should keep.

6. Shaq will make headline writers fall in love with him all over again. "Shaq" is compact, won't be confused with anything else, it rhymes with words like "flak" and "hack" and it fits a lot better than Abdur-Rahim.

Get ready for "Shaq Baq on Traq."

7. Shaq can find plenty of clothes to fit him. When you're 7-1 and a wafer-thin mint shy of 330 pounds, this is no tiny task. Shaq wears a size 56-long jacket. His neck measures 20 inches, his chest 55 inches and his waist 45 inches.

No problem. There is Rochester's on Wilshire, which Shaq already has visited a few times. Now he can be a regular, like Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell, Eddie Jones and even Dennis Rodman, who is rarely referred to as regular.

Bruce Fitzgerald, who manages Rochester's, said Shaq usually gets jeans and sport shirts and always makes a good impression "because he doesn't come in with an attitude."

8. Shaq can be instrumental in getting a new arena sold. Shaqdome: The House that Shaq Built. Those corporate boxes will sell like fettucine alfredo once Shaq is a Laker. Now figure the value of the Laker franchise with Shaq and without him. Bet you Jerry Buss already has.

9. Shaq can branch out into the restaurant business and buy L.A.'s two Shack restaurants, the one in Playa del Rey and the one in Santa Monica, then change their name to his liking.

The Shack in Playa del Rey is home to the Shack Attack, described by restaurant manager Mark Hoyt as "a heart attack on a bun." It's a quarter-pound burger and a Louisiana hot link sausage.

Hoyt said the Shack would welcome Shaq: "We'll give him the first one free and then overcharge him like hell for the second."

Is this a great town or what?

10. Shaq doesn't have to worry about his every move being scrutinized as he does in Orlando. He would be a normal, if somewhat oversized, celebrity here.

Besides, Shaq would be following in the very large sneakerprints of two centers who also left their teams to join the Lakers: Wilt Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar. Didn't they play on six NBA champion Laker teams?

Kazaam that, Shaq.

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