Shaq does indeed drive a Buick, brand spokesman Nick Richards confirmed today.
VINCE BOND JR.

Shaq: No grease needed to slide into my LaCrosse

Vince Bond Jr. is social media coordinator for Automotive News.
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Can Shaquille O'Neal really fit into a Buick LaCrosse?

The debate continues, but Buick has to love the humorous PR its giant pitchman generates.

Last night was a shining example.

The brand, trying to lose its grandfatherly image and appeal to younger buyers, was thrust into the millennial-dominated Twittersphere thanks to the always witty Charles Barkley.

During the latest episode of the "Inside the NBA" postgame show on the TNT network, Barkley took a swipe at the 7-foot-1-inch Shaq about his LaCrosse ads by saying O'Neal was rubbed down with Gold Bond Lotion to fit in.

In case you didn't know, Gold Bond is one of Shaq's many endorsements.

Barkley's jab led to this exchange:

Barkley: Had to grease your body to get in that Buick.

Shaq: It takes me two seconds to get in my Buick.

(Barkley then tries to throw co-analyst Kenny Smith under the bus.)

Barkley: Kenny told me only you and one of your kids can fit. You have to go to the amusement park with just one kid at a time.

(Smith denied it, but said he'd take ownership of the good joke.)

Shaq: It's probably true.

The Emmy-winning show, a staple of TNT's NBA programming, is known for the playful banter between Barkley, Shaq, Smith and host Ernie Johnson. Their antics often end up as trending topics on Twitter, a distinction usually reserved for major breaking news and the likes of Justin Bieber.

Out of the many commenters, none believed Shaq could fit comfortably. One user even concluded that the LaCrosse was actually built around Shaq instead of him actually getting inside of it.

But Shaq does indeed drive a Buick, brand spokesman Nick Richards confirmed today.

Richards said Shaq received a black 2013 LaCrosse -- his first – from an Atlanta-area dealership earlier this month. He'll also get a 2014 model at some point.

"Ever since he started doing those spots, he and Charles have been going back and forth on the show," Richards said in an interview. "Last week they were going back and forth and Shaq even said lets have the cameras go out to the parking lot and I'll show you. I've got my car outside. They never went out."

Richards said the ads have performed well.

"He's such a likeable guy. From an advertising standpoint, his spots have copy tested better than anything else we've done," he said. "We're really enthused by the response to him, the vehicle and to the two of them together."

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com. -- Follow Vince on Twitter

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