Shaquille O’Neal Hawks New Jewelry Line on Fifth Avenue

MIDTOWN — Size certainly matters in the world of jewelry. But on Monday, it was one massive celebrity salesman who caught shoppers’ eyes, rather than the usual baubles and gemstones. Basketball giant Shaquille O’Neal, who stands 7 foot 1 inches tall, posed as a sales associate at Zales onFifth Avenue Monday — name tag and all — as part of a publicity stunt to drum up attention for his new line of men’s jewelry. “I know what looks good. I know what looks classy,” O’Neal told New York, clutching the large, two-toned, stainless steel cross — one of his personal favorites from the line — that hung from his neck. O’Neal said he collaborated on the designs — which consist of 36 individual pieces that retail between $129 and $449 — with a husband-and-wife team of designers, adding details here and there but leaving the bulk of the creative work to the experts. “One of my favorite mottos to live by is, the greatest leaders are the ones who are smart enough to hire people smarter than they are,” O’Neal said. “I’ve always put myself with great teammates,” he added. “These ain’t just homeboys that just drew something.” The event drew a steady stream of fans who lined up beside the store’s diamond-filled display cases for a chance to meet the former NBA champion, who signed basketballs and posed for photographs for several hours Monday. Tiffany Cunningham, 24, works at the nearby TD Bank on 37th Street and Fifth Avenue and was walking by Zales on her lunch break when a store employee spotted her and encouraged her to come inside and meet the former MVP. “At first, I didn’t believe it,” Cunningham said. “I’m a Knicks fan, so I won’t tell him that.” Cunningham said she likes what she has seen of Shaq’s foray into the world of men’s jewelry. “I saw the chain he’s wearing,” she said. “It looks pretty good.” But her real goal was to get a good photo and spread the news of her celebrity encounter via social media. “I’m just going to go crazy,” she said, “see how many likes I can get.” Jason Derosa and Christy McBride, both 27, decided to use their day off of work to wait in line to meet Shaq. “I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” said Derosa, whose NBA team of choice is the Boston Celtics, one of Shaq’s former home courts. Theo Killion, CEO of Zales, said O’Neal’s collection of men’s jewelry launched in mid-October and has been so successful that the chain has increased the number of stores that carry the line, from 190 to 215. “He’s been an unbelievable partner,” Killion told New York. “We’re very optimistic about what [the collection] is going to be able to do.”

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