Back in the Game After NYT Buyout, Sportswriter Recalls Shaq Encounter

Since taking a buyout from the New York Times in early 2010, Joe Lapointe continued to teach journalism, freelanced and toiled briefly for Keith Olbermann’s Current TV show. Now, per his introductory MLive Media Group dispatch, it’s time to get back into the sportswriting game full-time.


Lapointe, who came to the Times after 11 years with the Detroit Free Press, is thrilled to be back in his native state. He says that when he looks back on his decades of NYC reporting, two folks stand out – Yogi Berra and Shaquille O’Neal:

The Shaq thing happened on a sunny day as I walked through Times Square back to work after lunch. I saw O’Neal signing autographs as he emerged from a restaurant and walked down the sidewalk…

I walked past his group and stood on the tall curb. Yellow taxis whisked by. Suddenly, I felt a strong blow to my back that pitched me forward. It was Shaq, who – signing autographs – didn’t see me, perhaps because I am half as tall.

Before I could fall further forward, I felt two huge hands grab each side of my rib cage and lift me backward as if I were a rebound, only more alive. “Sorry, oh, I’m so sorry,” Shaq said. “Are you all right?”

Sure, I told him “No harm, no foul.” is lucky to have such an experienced, genial sportswriter join their ranks. We look forward to reading Lapointe’s dispatches in the coming weeks, months.

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