(NECN: Peter Howe, Lexington, Mass.) Between Shaquille O'Neal making his debut as a Boston Celtic and Lebron James making his debut with an all-star Miami Heat trio alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, demand for tickets to Tuesday night's Celtics-Heat season opener is through the roof.
"The demand for this game is the highest demand we've ever seen for a regular season game,'' said Jim Holzman, founder and CEO of Ace Ticket, which is getting prices as high as $1,500 for reselling courtside seats and well over $180 for other TD Bank Garden seats that on a normal night might go for $25.
"This isn't even a local event, it's a world-wide event. We've gotten calls from people from all over the world flying in just to see this game,'' Holzman said.
Besides the appeal of the powerhouse Heat and the James-Wade-Bosh trio, Holzman said a lot of the buzz is coming from a certain 7-foot-1 325-pound giant now wearing Celtics green.
Monday found O'Neal in Lexington, Mass., pitching in with loading up 2,500 pounds of pasta being donated by Buca Di Beppa -- a restaurant chain O'Neal's a part-owner of that has a restaurant on Waltham Street -- to the Greater Boston Food Bank.
"It's World Pasta Day, so we wanted to donate some pasta,'' O'Neal said. "We do well here, you know. We like to give back. We like to take care of people that are less fortunate.''
Sonya Behnke of the food bank said the organization's gearing up to distribute 40,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving. As the economic downturn has ground on, Behnke said, "The need for food assistance has increased a lot in the last few years so we're so happy to have Shaq come out and just show how much he is dedicated to the issue of hunger, dedicated to the community.''
After lifting several hundred pounds of pasta into the back of the delivery truck, I asked Shaq if he was worn out, or if he had plenty of energy left for the Heat/ "No, I've got enough left for tomorrow,'' O'Neal said with a laugh. And then just to be sure, he put away a very big Buca Di Beppa lunch -- fueling up to beat the Heat.
With videographer Bob Ricci