Kevin Cartini received a shocking phone call about noon Thursday from a friend who was at Carousel Center, in Syracuse.
Cartini, 19, of Syracuse, couldn't believe his ears. His childhood hero, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, was at the mall.
His friend told him that O'Neal, along with the Phoenix Suns basketball team, was at Carousel Center watching a private screening of "The Express," the movie about Syracuse University football hero Ernie Davis.
Cartini got to the mall as fast as he could and waited for about two hours to catch O'Neal as he walked out of the theater, about 3 p.m.
"I told him about how I've written him letters and how he replied with some signed autographs," Cartini said. "I thanked him for that . . . then he gave me a fist bump."
Kevin is the one in the Orlando Magic Shaq jersey and hence officially "that guy." He noted that "his hands were absolutely enormous and were very dry. Have no idea what this means."
Kevin is actually also one of the purveyors of the new SU blog The Saltine Warriors and he wrote about the experience over there:
I'm obviously rocking the Shaq Orlando throwback jersey (made by the one and only Champion) The team is in the movie, so we have a lot of time to kill. So we wait. For about an hour and a half. To make a long story a little shorter, we finally see Raja Bell, Steve Nash, and Shaq himself emerge from the movie exit. After being a borderline stalker (hey, I wasn't alone in this; there was an entourage about 65 people following him too) for approximately 2 more hours, we watched Shaq browse the entire mall, workout at Bally's and eventually leave. During this time, I actually got to meet my idol.Good work, Kev. Plus this way, SU security know what you look like now when you try to break into the Suns' lockerroom in the middle of the game to steal Shaq's street clothes. So everybody wins.