Political History by Mitch Rabalais: When Duke and Shaq Clashed

In 1991, the LSU Basketball team was one of the best squads in the country. Featuring the nation’s top player, Shaquille O’Neal, the Tigers appeared poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

But as basketball season tipped off, it wasn’t exciting games in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center that drew national attention to Louisiana.

State Rep. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, had made a runoff in the hotly contested race for governor. With his well-known past, Duke had become the subject of international media attention, basking in the spotlight.

Increasingly worried about how Duke’s image was hurting the state’s ability to attract economic development, New Orleans businessman Dave Dixon paid for a series of TV spots. In them, he explained how David Duke in the Governor’s Mansion could negatively effect LSU’s ability to attract top athletes.

Dixon’s ads were effective and generated a fair bit of attention, and sportswriters covering LSU began asking players and coaches for their thoughts on the governor’s race. When approached, O’Neal said, “I’m not into politics. I looked at LSU as a school when I came here. Now if David Duke were the coach and trying to recruit me, I'd have told him to take a hike.”

Days later, a WAFB reporter asked Duke about Dixon’s ads. Having caught O’Neal’s response, he said, "Shaquille O'Neal on the LSU basketball team said my being governor wouldn't affect the state at all. He said unless I was perhaps the coach.”

O’Neal instantly caught backlash for Duke’s remarks. Coach Dale Brown, never shy with his political opinions,  was outraged by the politician’s spin on his player’s words. He helped O’Neal draft a statement denouncing Duke and calling the candidate a liar.

Duke, an LSU alumnus, supposedly made plans to attend the Tigers’ next home game. Brown told LSU administrators that if Duke was in the crowd, he and the team would walk off the court in protest. On the day of the game, police were stationed all around the PMAC, determined to intercept Duke. He never showed.

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

* * * * *   S P E C I A L   H O L I D A Y   I S S U E   * * * * * The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille &

SPONSORED: Fostering A Healthier Community One Step At A Time

TPG recently attended the Acadiana Culture of Health Summit, an event that brought together healthcare professionals, local leaders, and

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates December 11, 2018 / Issue No. 168 By MITCH RABALAIS

SPONSORED: Cheniere Energy Makes A Generous Donation In New Apprenticeship Program

The new program will launch in January 2019, and eligible students will take what they have learned in SOWELA’s classrooms and apply it to

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

  ALERT: TO ALL VOTING ADULTS & PEOPLE WITH HEART CONDITIONS OR YOUNG CHILDREN…. THE SILLY SEASON IS UPON US… THERE IS NOWHERE

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 27, 2018 — Issue No. 166 By: Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: Lafayette Airport Terminal Groundbreaking Ceremony

It’s an exciting time for the Lafayette Regional Airport and the Acadiana region. After many years of planning and raising funds, the new

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates November 13, 2018 Issue No. 165 By Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: Picard Participates In Collaborative Panel Discussion

As Chair-Elect of the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and member of the Committee of 100, Tyron Picard recently participated in a

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By MITCH RABALAIS (mitch@lapolitics.com) & JEREMY ALFORD

SPONSORED: TPG Attends Microsoft Consultant’s Retreat

TPG’s Mike Michot and Evan Boudreaux recently attended the 2018 Microsoft State Governmental Affairs Consultant’s Retreat, providing an

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates October 30, 2018 Issue No. 163 Special “BRUH!” Edition By: Mitch

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates October 23, 2018 — Issue No. 162 By Mitch Rabalais

SPONSORED: LPCA Hold 35th Annual Conference

TPG’s client Louisiana Primary Care Association (LPCA) held their 35th Annual Conference last week at the Shreveport Convention Center. LPCA

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates

October 16, 2018 — Issue No. 161 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) (Printable

CORRECTION (LaPolitics Weekly 10.12.18)

In a “Field Notes” brief from yesterday’s LaPolitics Weekly, we erroneously reported that the Plaquemines Parish Council voted 4-3 to remove

The WEDNESDAY Tracker, Sponsored By Harris DeVille & Associates

October 10, 2018 — Issue No. 160 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com) RISPONE IS IN Fast

SPONSORED: Bike MS + Team Blu Collar = Success

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you work as a team, focused on one goal and motivating each other to succeed. On October 6 and

SPONSORED: The Picard Group

TUESDAY TRACKER (For Oct. 2!)

October 2, 2018 — Issue No. 159 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais (Mitch@LaPolitics.com)  IT AIN’T

SPONSORED: Honoring Former Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

The Picard Group was honored to attend the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center gala on Friday, September 21, supporting UL

SPONSORED: Franco-Fête 2018 Fundraising Luncheon For Scholarship Program Of CODOFIL

Each year, Franco-Fête raises funds to support French education in Louisiana, especially through La Fondation Louisiane’s “Escadrille

The Tuesday Tracker (Sponsored By Harris DeVille & Associates)

September 18, 2018 — Issue No. 158 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch Rabalais