Obama dispatches Shaquille ‘Kazaam’ O’Neal to apartheid Cuba as ‘Sports Envoy’

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A retired NBA superstar is President Obama’s latest recruit to help carry out his Cuba policy of bolstering and protecting Cuba’s apartheid Castro dictatorship. The president is hoping that basketball great Shaquille “Kazaam” O’Neal will be able to work some of his “magic” in Cuba as a “sports envoy” and distract everyone from the fact America’s first black president also happens to be America’s first president to embrace and endorse Cuba’s brutally repressive and racist apartheid regime.

Via Houston’s KHOU:

State Dept. names new envoy to Cuba: Shaquille O’Neal

Forget about all those visits by the president and his diplomats — the U.S. State Department is now sending Shaq to Cuba.

Shaquille O’Neal, the four-time NBA champion turned TV analyst, will travel to Cuba on Saturday as a “sports envoy” on behalf of the State Department. In that role, he will host basketball clinics on the island and tour the country in an effort to promote the improving ties between the Cold War foes.

“This people-to-people program taps into the unique strength of sports — including basketball — to reach out to young people and promote cooperation and engagement in Cuba,” read a statement from the State Department issued Friday. “O’Neal will draw on his personal basketball and business backgrounds to highlight the importance of social inclusion and respect for diversity.”

Celebrities have flocked to Cuba ever since President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced in December 2014 that the long-time foes would begin the process of normalizing relations. Ever since, singers Rihanna, Katy Perry and Usher have visited, Paris Hilton has paraded around her family’s old hotel in Havana and Conan O’Brien has hosted a series of TV shows from the island.

But none of those went with a seal of approval from the U.S. government, as O’Neal will soon do. He will host clinics from Saturday through Tuesday with Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Kaleb Canales, who briefly served as the first Mexican-American head coach in NBA history when he coached the Portland Trailblazers for 23 games in 2012.

Obama visited Cuba himself during a historic visit in March. It was the first by a sitting U.S. president in more than 70 years and signaled the next step in the evolving relationship.

2 thoughts on “Obama dispatches Shaquille ‘Kazaam’ O’Neal to apartheid Cuba as ‘Sports Envoy’”

  1. So what else is new? You don’t think Obama sent Mr. and Mrs. Z even before “normalization”? You bet he did, for all practical purposes, and I’m sure the Z’s knew they were fully covered by their dear friends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But hey, the pope’s fine with it, so who the hell are Cubans to object?

  2. Oh, and by the way, if Cassius Clay were alive and up to it, I’ve no doubt he would have happily obliged Obama in this same kind of “mission.” There’s no shortage of willing missionaries, so get ready for more. I expect Mrs. Z will announce a concert in Havana any day now, even though Havana is much more enticing for the clearly-past-it crowd, for obvious reasons. I can’t imagine what’s taking Madonna so long–Mariela’s drag queens would go insane.

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