TNT’s Southland is set to have its biggest guest star ever – and we mean that literally! The one and only NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal will make an appearance as a detective and old police academy acquaintance of Officer John Cooper’s (Michael Cudlitz). Of the relationship between the two, Cudlitz says “[O’Neal’s character] went off into being a detective, and I stayed on patrol through choice. We’re not great friends on the show, but we do [have some] history.”
According to TVGuide.com the two are brought back together (unsurprisingly) by a case:
"A gangbanger who is pretty high up in the ranks gets taken out… We know a lot of…guys with outstanding warrants are going to show up at the funeral, so it brings together a lot of cops who wouldn’t necessarily be together."
Cudlitz himself says that Shaq was wonderful to work with, outside of the fact that he’s a legend. Apparently he was a lot of fun, and Cudlitz “would love to see him pop in and out [of the series].”
Furthermore the actor says “As the show has always treated our city with respect, it’s a wonderful homage to Los Angeles. And let’s not forget that Shaq is a reserve officer. He’s probably the only one who belongs out there in uniform!”
Speaking of O’Neal’s love for the city of angels, he was very recently honored by the Lakers – the team with which he gained his legendary status. For the Lakers (and the NBA at large) the decade or so from the mid-1990s to the early 2000’s is remembered as the O’Neal/Bryant era. Kobe is still playing there, but it’s clear that his partner in crime has not been forgotten. Shaq’s iconic number 34 jersey has officially been retired by the team.
O’Neal has the honor of being only the 9th-ever retired number for the LA Lakers. His number goes up alongside some of the game’s all-time greatest players’, including Wilt Chamberlain (13), Earvin “Magic” Johnson (32), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33). It’s a well-deserved distinction for Shaq, and we say “congratulations!”
Don’t forget to tune into TNT’s Southland when it airs on Wednesdays at 10pm!
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