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Shaq sings, grooves with Levine in The Event at MGM Grand

Updated October 3, 2022 - 10:03 am

At the end of the day, and also the night, Shaq is just a big kid.

The hoops legend, tireless entrepreneur and passionate philanthropist turned the MGM Grand Garden into his own playground Saturday night. Wearing a brilliant, silver tux and wielding a microphone, the host joined Adam Levine and Maroon 5 for “This Love” near the end of The Event for the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation.

Shaq’s zeal was contagious. His singing was … zealous. He proved that such a spirited performance is an effect way to allay the sort of unwelcome distraction that accompanied Levine’s appearance (during the show, “SNL” was busy flaying him during a skit on its season-opening broadcast, a game show asking contestants to produce “normal” texts with the winner getting $100 million, and if this is the type of fare the show has planned this year, it’s going to be a long season … but I digress).

As it was, Levine in person filled the bill as rock star as the band (in its first performance since Levine’s marital controversy unfolded) churned out “Moves Like Jagger,” “Stereo Hearts,” “One More Night,” “Animals,” “What Lovers Do,” and “Makes Me Wonder.” The Levine-Shaq duet was during the second song of the set. Consider it all sample platter (except for the Shaq part) for Maroon 5’s M5LV residency run at Dolby Live beginning March 24.

Pitbull, with his ubiquitous, percussive backing dancers, opened the show and also donated $25K to the effort. Comic and actor Joel McHale, who could be the emcee of everything in Las Vegas, hosted. He mentioned there will be a “Community” movie upcoming, which we had not known beforehand.

H.E.R. and Maren Morris turned in terrific performances. Comic John Mulvaney unspooled a list of Shaq’s many business interests.

“Shaquille O’Neal just does’t put his name on anything. Shaq puts his name on things when they’re special,” Mulvaney said. “Like ads for Buick, or Icy Hot, or Gold Bond, or Taco Bell, or Power Balance — which is a magnetic bracelet thing that I scam, but it looked good, anyway … Or Muscle Milk, or Shaq Fu the video game, or Shaq Fu the beverage.”

Mulvaney said a lot of those in attendance were wondering why Shaq hadn’t partnered with Shake Shack. “It would work! It would be a fast and easy buck!” Mulvaney said. “But it would be a conflict of interest, because Shaq already owns 37 Five Guys burger franchises.”

McHale singled out someone who was not at The Event. He said he had been previously booked at the Brett Favre Foundation event. “But they had to move some things around,” he said. “Something about off-shore accounts.” McHale also raced much of the material uploaded into a monitor facing the stage. “No, not going to say that. Keep moving,” which helped the show end just about on time.

Throughout the night, The Event kept its focus as intended, to raise money for Boys & Girls Club and Communities in Schools. A total of $3.15 million was raised through corporate support, a live auction and table sales.

Shaq said from the stage the money is being used for a Boys and Girls Club/Community in Schools training and alumni center in Las Vegas.

This was the real point of it all. O’Neal has created, in just two years, one of the biggest philanthropic efforts in the city. “It’s about the spirit we bring,” he said, “and the lives we can change when we work together.” As we say, sing it, Brother.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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