Shaq O'Neal wants to bring kung fu to NBA

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 14, 2009 at 5:11 AM EDT

NBA All-Star centre Shaquille O'Neal has said he hopes to bring his martial arts skills to the basketball court, during a visit to China's Shaolin Temple -- the birthplace of kung fu.

"When I was a kid, I saw a lot of Shaolin kung fu performances," O'Neal told Titan Sports, China's top sports newspaper, as he toured the temple in central Henan province on Monday.

"I always wanted to know if Shaolin kung fu was real or not. Now, at last I know -- the Chinese kung fu I saw on television, it was all real," the four-time NBA champion said in remarks translated into Chinese.

"When I go home I will study this and hopefully even use it when I'm playing basketball."

O'Neal -- who earlier this month signed a contract to play with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers -- has visited China numerous times and signed several endorsement deals here.

Known to the Chinese as the "Big Shark," the 37-year-old O'Neal has practised martial arts in the off-season for years.

On Monday, he met with the temple's top monks and watched a group of warrior monks performing martial arts exercises.

"I am really interested in snake-style kung fu," Titan quoted O'Neal as saying.

"When I retire, I hope to come back to the Shaolin Temple to study for a year. To come here just this one time is not enough."

State television showed crowds surrounding O'Neal, as he mimicked the hand movements that give snake-style kung fu its name.

When asked if he would be comfortable playing in Cleveland where the weather is colder than anywhere else he has played during his 17-year NBA career, the centre answered: "I think I can adjust to any kind of weather.

"In China you call me the big shark -- now you can call me the polar bear. I will be like a polar bear when it comes to fighting the cold."




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