Former Miami Heat center and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal gave a special notice to several South Florida police agencies Thursday night after the Miami Heat's win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
During the post-game TV coverage on TNT, Shaq (now a TNT analyst) broke down an altercation between Heat center Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, then gave credit to the Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Miami Beach Police, and Golden Beach Police for his own sleuthing skills.
"Detective O'Neal is on the case," Shaq declared before going to the replay. He found that Andersen had been shoved on a previous play by Paul George of Indiana, then retaliated against Hansbrough in a case of mistaken identity.
Andersen was given a flagrant-1 foul for a hip check that sent Hansbrough to the court, while Hansbrough got a technical foul for prolonging the spat.
"The reason why I called that was because I was raised by chief Don DeLucca and Ray Martinez," Shaq said. "That was great detective work right there. ...I just wanted to tell them thank you for making me become a great detective."
Israel said the postgame recognition from O'Neal was exciting for his family.
“My boys were shouting and screaming, ‘Shaq gave you a shout-out, Shaq gave you a shout-out!’ So we thought it was great," Israel said.
The sheriff said he’s met O’Neal several times, and said he’s a great man and a great person in addition to being a great athlete.
After the season ends, Shaq will be back in Broward, pitching in with a BSO project to help kids, Israel said.
O'Neal has been a Miami Beach reserve police officer since 2005. Shortly after joining the force, he witnessed a hate crime and helped an officer arrest the perpetrator by trailing him and alerting police.
Shaq's discussion of the altercation and his shout-out can be viewed below, starting at the 1:20 mark: