The Big Maestro

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By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / December 21, 2010

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Add maestro to the Big Shamrock’s resume. Shaquille O’Neal hit Symphony Hall last night to join the Boston Pops as guest conductor at the orchestra’s holiday show.

Before his big moment, the Celts center got a primer from Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, who told him to “just keep going’’ when he got a little nervous with the baton.

But the NBA legend quickly caught on during rehearsal, guiding the Pops in his own way through lively renditions of “Sleigh Ride,’’ MJ’s “Can You Feel It?’’ and, perhaps to pad the hopes of Celtics fans, “We Are the Champions.’’

He told reporters before going live that he had a newfound respect for conductors.

“My arms are shot,’’ he said.

Asked how appearing with Lockhart compared to sharing the stage with teen idol Justin Beiber, he said, “I gotta put him a notch above Justin Beiber.’’