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SHAQ OBVIOUSLY NOT THE NCAA'S CHOICE FOR NEXT GENERATION
Published April 1, 1997
PepsiCo was "forced" by the NCAA to pull a new ad featuring Shaquille O'Neal from CBS' Final Four coverage, according to Steve Zipay in NEWSDAY. NCAA rules ban pro basketball players in uniform from appearing in ads during the NCAA tournament. Pepsi created the 60-second spot, a "spoof" on the 70's-movie "Shaft," in which O'Neal wears Lakers colors in an arena similar to the Great Western Forum, specifically for the Final Four (NEWSDAY, 3/28). O'Neal's agent, Leonard Armato: "If the Pope had said the commercial might have an impact on young people, I might buy it. But not the NCAA. It doesn't make a lot of sense. What, seeing Shaq in a yellow jersey in a commercial is going to influence kids to quit school and go pro? I don't think so." Armato said the yellow jersey that O'Neal wears in the ad has No. 34 on it but it is not a Laker jersey. O'Neal could not wear his Lakers jersey because Coca-Cola has an exclusive deal with the NBA (L.A. TIMES, 3/31). WORD FROM SHAQ: O'Neal: "I do not care about the NCAA, they jerked me around when I was in college, so forget them anyway." NCAA statement: "We felt like this ad promoted Shaq more than it promoted Pepsi." Pepsi spokesperson Brad Shaw: "This is about some guys at the NCAA kind of cramping Shaq's style a little bit. ... In the end ... the spot's going to be famous" ("Access Hollywood," 3/28).