(By Christopher Wilson)
A man dressed as a king may not be able to influence me into buying a hamburger, but the same cannot be said about a 300-pound basketball player.
Burger King knew it had something special when it signed Shaquille O'Neal as a sponsor. But many athletes promote fast food restaurants. What separated Shaq and Burger King's joint venture was their desire to have Shaq be the first person in Burger King's history to have a menu item named for them.
The Shaq Pack debuted in April 2002. The meal consisted of a grilled sourdough bacon cheeseburger, fries, a pack of Kraft chili-cheese dipping sauce and a drink. Eaters were supposed to dip their fries in the warm chili-cheese, and seeing that was all it took for me have a portion of my paychecks direct-deposited into Burger King's bank account.
As if this promotion were not already great by itself, Burger King produced a 30-second commercial, featuring Shaq playing street basketball dressed as the great detective John Shaft, complete with Isaac Hayes singing an altered version of the "Theme from Shaft."
"Who is a man that can jam over any man? Shaq! Can you dig it? Who's the cat that wants sourdough, bacon and all that? Shaq! I'm talking 'bout a Shaq Pack. He can dig it."
It's not often an official soundtrack comes with a meal, but when there is, one must take advantage of said opportunity. Dressing up as Shaft is acceptable. Trying to burp the theme song is permitted. Forgoing the chili-cheese in favor of ketchup is highly discouraged.
I don't mean to complain, but the only thing that would have made this the best promotion ever would have been a kids meal toy of Shaq dressed as Shaft. The Los Angeles Lakers were months away from winning their third straight NBA championship when this promotion began, and I was vehemently rooting against Shaq's team, but I would have put our differences aside had a Burger King toy been at stake.
The Shaq Pack was only available for a limited time, for which everyone is disappointed. Had Shaq convinced his teammates to eat three Shaq Packs three times a day throughout the playoffs, then 1) the Shaq Packs would still be available today, 2) Kobe would have avoided food poisoning from his Sacramento cheeseburger and 3) Sacramento would have made the NBA Finals.
The King, the King's man and the Kings all would have prospered.
Christopher is a Waco, Texas, resident, Editor in Chief of MyBriefs.com, author of the book "Sports Briefs" and the adult writer for the Gab Four. Read more of his solo columns here.