Do you know that game you play with your significant other (when you’ve gotten sick of the idle chit chat that dominates your relationship) – “If given the chance, with what three people would it be OK to have a fling?”

This was inquired upon me by my girlfriend. She answered that her selections would be John Cusack, Dave Matthews, and George Stephanopoulos. (I know, right?) After careful musing, I responded the teller at my bank, the blonde spin instructor from my gym, and her sister Julie.

I did mention she’s now my ex girlfriend, right? Hey, she was the one who wasted her picks on people she’d never meet!

Then there’s a corresponding game as well in which you select one celebrity for an imaginary homosexual experience (or one of many; listen we’re not judging here, the days of not asking and/or telling are over). I’d always said George Clooney, though I know most of you readers would go with Ryan Reynolds or Matthew McConaghey, someone on whose abs you can scrub your laundry to get it clean. I can’t blame you. But my point is this –- there is one big name that I’ve never heard mentioned in either of these games. I mean, one big name.

Let’s consider for a moment this behemoth of a personality, this giant of a character, this Renaissance man (if the Renaissance was a period of time most remembered for a society beset with pituitary problems). At one time or another, he’s been many things from “the Big Aristotle,” “the Big Shamrock,” “the Diesel,” “Kazaam,” Shaq-ules,” a Shaq-odile eating up all comers, a practitioner of Shaq Fu on all unsuspecting nemeses; he’s won a Nobel Prize for Shaq-onomics, he’s been chiseled out of granite at the peak of Mount Shaqmore, he’s the proprietor of the Love Shaq, plus, he’s just an all around Shaq-tastic dude. He is the one and only Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal.

There is no greater, more recognizable figure in our society. So why do more people not choose him as their infidelity instigator? Granted it might be difficult to interact with him, er, physically. I imagine you’d need mountain climbing gear, someone to help belay, and probably a sherpa, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Heck, you need three people in a daisy chain just to give him a big hug.

That aside, let’s take a long look at the 7-1, 325-pound, 15-time All-Star, and four-, perhaps soon-to-be five-, time champion.

The man has been an actor, a rapper, an endorser, a trained MMA-fighter, a duly-deputized officer of the law, and this year, a human statue in Harvard Square. Who else does that?! The latter escapade endeared him to fans in a city that are very careful about to which sports celebrities they throws their affections, something about being continually disappointed for 86 years.

And he very well may be super human. Sure, he’s missed parts of most years to injuries, but he keeps coming back. The man pushes three spins on the scale and has played almost 20 years. Yao Ming is a bean pole compared to him and cannot stay healthy. Forget about Bill Walton and Greg Oden, two other No. 1 picks.

How has Shaq done it? Just by being Shaq. That and magic ... the team that drafted him. Coincidence?

The more I think about it, the more I conclude that it might just be better to be airlifted in and work from the top down. I mean, you’d still have to be careful not to get “the bends” or some other form of altitude sickness, but –- I’m sorry, I've digressed here, what was I talking about again?

Oh, right, Shaq. I love Shaq! I’m not ashamed to admit it. I mean, how could you not? In fact, I’d question you for not loving him. (Most of these people are Lakers fans and I’m questioning them already; I have been for years, so don’t sweat it.) What other sports celeb has the draw of Shaq?

Basketballers are frequently larger than life, but none rises to the stratosphere of the dominant center. What other hoopster is so engaging? That list begins and ends with Charles Barkley. He’s candid and hilarious and no one who is not a role model has been more fun to look up to than the Round Mound of Rebound. But he’s only got two nicknames (Sir Charles being the other) and though you’ve got to look up to him, you don’t have to climb up Barkley using Alpine ski poles and a carabiner just to rub his head for luck like you would on your very own personal Shaq-oline. (OK, I’m digressing again. This is really turning into something other than what I’d expected. But I don’t care, dammit!)

Even footballers such as Deion Sanders and Warren Sapp aren’t so engaging. Wacky? Yes, but not as uniquely original. Peyton Manning is self-effacing to the point of hilarity, but he can get lost in a crowd, even at a Manning Family Christmas. (Note to self: Contact NBC about airing “A Manning Family Christmas” next year.)

Olympians? Well, they come out every four years ... unless you’re Bruce Jenner and then we can’t get rid of you. Golfers? Though Tiger has been hilarious before, it was inadvertently so and he’s not as funny when he doesn’t cheat on his wife. Extreme snowboarders? If we knew who you were, then I’m sure we’d love you too.

Muhammed Ali could captivate a crowd too and has been the most popular athlete in the world along with “the Greatest,” but he’s slowing down and is giving the proverbial alley-oop to Shaq. Though Shaq really hasn’t been known for his philanthropy work globally, he hits the masses.

Shaq’s got it all –- the crooked smile, the cross-eyed stare, the deep voice. He’s hilarious too. (Remember him sprawled out on Tracey Morgan’s lap, yawning as the comedian gave him a spanking on “Saturday Night Live?”)

Let’s not forget to mention that Shaq is open and honest too. None of that athlete rhetoric -- “tough opponent,” “give 110 percent,” “no ‘I’ in team” stuff. When David Letterman asked him on “The Late Show” recently if he thought it could be accurate to say Phil Jackson’s legacy was due only to having great players, more so than coaching, Shaq didn’t hesitate and responded, “I would say yes.” That’s what we love to hear.

He wasn’t always like this, mind you. Shaq would mock the team in Sacramento, calling them the “Queens.” He would berate a certain Yugoslavian player as “Floppy” Divac, for the alleged overly demonstrative falls he would take, though let’s be honest; Shaq had been guilty of doing the same from time to time. But that was the old Shaq. It just shows that he’s interested in self improvement (in every aspect of his life except free throws).

Now he can do no wrong in my eyes. He’s the Robert Downey Jr. of sports. Or wait, maybe Robert Downey Jr. is the Shaquille O’Neal of acting. (Take a moment to discuss.) The kids love him, he can poke fun at himself, he doesn’t get in trouble with the law, (in fact, he is the law,) he’s only sworn on national television once or twice after a game, and he wants to win. What more can you ask for?

What’s more is he’s larger than life. You know how everything looks so big to you when you’re a kid? That’s how Shaq is. He makes you feel like a kid. Ooooh, if we’re marketing him as a toy, there’s a good start! Only you’ll never rid yourself of that feeling. Except when he gets older and starts to shrink a little, but even then, he’ll be 6-11.

Let’s start thinking about Shaq as the person you’d jeopardize your marriage for. We’re lucky to have him. He’s a once in a half century type of personality, the perfect man to love. Ladies, he’s single. What can your man do that Shaq can’t (outside of squeeze into a Mini Cooper)? And fellas, when’s the last bromance you’ve had that didn’t leave you a little wanton? Humor, charm, goofiness, championships -- he’ll give it to you.

Just one caveat, if you’re going to choose him, just make sure you’ve got at least one spotter and your insurance is paid in full.

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