Thursday, July 19, 2018
Sports

Shaq hits Havana for tour, good will

HAVANA — The Shaq show came to Cuba on Sunday as NBA great Shaquille O'Neal put on a basketball clinic for local youngsters, becoming the latest emissary for American outreach here.

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductee and four-time NBA champion led star-struck kids in layup drills and coached scrimmages while onlookers cheered. It was part of a visit, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, to foster exchanges with Cubans.

Recent years have seen a string of American sporting, diplomatic and cultural missions to the island as Washington and Havana mend relations that were hostile for more than five decades. Ties were formally restored last year under presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

"Baseball, soccer, basketball — it's about sports, you know," O'Neal said. "We share a lot of things in common."

This March, the Rays played Cuba's national team in an exhibition in Havana as both Obama and Castro attended.

As for O'Neal, basketball fan Juan Navarrete, 13, was thrilled to see him up close.

"I would really like to become great, a great player," Navarrete said. "Maybe I can become a great player like Shaquille O'Neal."

O'Neal's goodwill tour of Cuba runs through Tuesday.

Simmons' cousin killed: The cousin of No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons died Saturday after being hit by a sport utility vehicle in Hoboken, N.J., family members said. Zachary Simmons, 21, was struck while crossing a street. Authorities said the SUV fled the scene. The victim's mother, Monique Steele, said police told her the SUV was going at least 70 mph at the time of the accident, New York's WCBS-TV reported.

Place at Pride: NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA president Lisa Borders marched in New York City's pride parade. The two leagues became the first pro sports organization to have a float in the parade. Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum both wore "#OrlandoUnited" shirts to show their support for victims of the nightclub attack this month.

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