Shaquille O'Neal, Big Bird and Marilyn Manson walk into a bar in central Pennsylvania in the middle of a snowstorm. No it is not a joke set-up, it is a real thing that happened during the 1996 NBA season.
According to Jonathan Abrams's massive new oral history of the Shaq and Penny-era Magic on Grantland, the team found itself stranded in Allentown, Pa., by a snowstorm, along with a Sesame Street touring company and rock star Marilyn Manson.
Former assistant coach Richie Adubato tells about the odd scene in a bar when he walked in.
"We walk in [the bar], there’s three groups: Marilyn Manson and his people, Sesame Street On Ice, and us. What a mixture. Shaq goes in and he knew Marilyn Manson. He goes in and he picks him up in the air like he was a toothpick."
After spending a few days snowed in, the team eventually got out of town and back to sunny Florida with the help of the police and a few snow plows, according to assistant coach Tom Sterner.
We had a police escort [with] snowplows that took us to the airport because the NBA said we had to get back to Florida to play. I think we left at 11 a.m., got back at two and ended up playing at seven that night.
The story is filled with gems, like players riding jet skis to one another's lakefront residences, and Shaq somehow passing unnoticed through a crowd of fans just by wearing a Jheri curl wig.
- Brendan Maloy