Legendary United States center Shaquille O’Neal is in Havana on June 26, playing basketball with Cuban youths who love the game as well as the NBA star.
(Soundbite) Shaquille O’Neal, Former NBA Player
“We share a lot of things in common and we want to come here to extend our friendly hand and start moving things on between both nations. It was great for the president to reopen the door and regain a better relationship with this beautiful island. It does not matter what sport you play, because powerful sports figures can tap and help with the universal power of sports.”
Before the trip, O’Neal was named as sports envoy to Cuba by U.S. President Barack Obama as the latest sign of the thawing ties between both nations.
(Soundbite) Dalila Perera, Participant
“It is of great support for us. It is a great experience that a figure like him is here with us to teach us. It is an honor.”
The once dominant center in NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat spent around two hours with the young Cubans.
(Soundbite) Jordan Davis, Participant
“It brings a lot of joy, because we can learn more techniques with the experience he has.”
The retired player will stay in Cuba until June 28 to meet young people, talk about sports and business, and visit cultural sites.