An unlikely guest visited the birthplace of Zen Buddhism on Monday. NBA all-star Shaquille O’Neal went to the Shaolin Temple in China’s Henan province, where he met and discussed Buddhism with Abbot Shi Yongxim.
O’Neal made the personal stop during a promotional tour with fellow NBA player, Lebron James. The 7-foot-1 basketball player practices martial arts off-season, telling Chinese sports media that he grew up watching Chinese kung fu on TV, so he had to visit the birthplace of Shaolin Kunfu. O’Neal even hopes to bring his martial arts skills into the NBA some day.
Before leaving, Shi presented O’Neal with a Bodhidharma statue. O’Neal had this to say on his blog: “I’ve been a lot of places but being at the Shaolin Temple has brought a tear to my eye. Buddha blessed.”
This isn’t O’Neal’s first dip into Buddhism. During his L.A. Lakers days, his coach was the renowned Phil “Zen Master” Jackson, who brought the influences of spirituality and Eastern philosophy (particularly mindfulness practice, as recounted in his book, Sacred Hoops) into his coaching.
Read more at China Daily.