'Who is this dude?' – Ronnie O'Sullivan and Shaquille O'Neal's unlikely link-up

Shaquille O’Neal had an introduction into the world of snooker last week as he had an unlikely meeting with legends of the baize Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White.

The trio were all in Macau, where the Rocket and the Whirlwind were playing an exhibition and Shaq was DJing at an event called the Wynn Signature – 2023 Hypercar Exhibition.

Snooker’s world number one was excited to meet the basketball legend after getting into the sport recently.

‘Yeah, Shaq was good. I love Shaq,’ O’Sullivan said. ‘Seen a few clips of him on YouTube and he seemed like quite a good character. When I met him, I was like, ah, I really like this guy before I had even met him.

‘Obviously, he’s a superstar, an NBA legend, and just to meet him…because I like my basketball, after watching a few of the Netflix series. I had got into the sport. Yeah, he’s a great guy and it was great to meet him in Macau.’

Shaq may not have been as excited to meet Ronnie, but he soon learned how well-known the world number one is in China.

‘You know, it’s quite funny because we were all standing there. You had the people at the hotel, the CEO, the CFO, Shaq, then me and Jimmy White,’ explained O’Sullivan.

‘You had quite a big crowd of people all there. They introduced each one. There was a little clap. Shaq got a little bit of reception. When they introduced my name, I got just as loud as Shaq. Shaq was looking down like that. “Who is this dude?”

‘He came up to me, “hey man, are you alright?” I said, “I’m cool.” It was quite funny. But he was cool. A really nice guy. A good guy.’

O’Sullivan has been doing plenty of travelling of late, flying between China and Spain before returning to the UK on Monday morning and heading straight to Brentwood to play in the English Open.

He won his opening round match 4-0 against Andrew Pagett after a hectic schedule but said the win was really a bonus, playing snooker for fun, while the exhibition trip is what he considers his main job.

‘Listen, I have been doing this for about eight years,’ said the 47-year-old. ‘I play snooker for fun and I work for a living. So my exhibitions and all my other stuff, my sponsors, that is work.

‘I need to do that because I don’t want to be dependent on prize money, getting a few results, I just couldn’t survive. I wouldn’t enjoy my snooker.’

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