*The Boston Globe now refers to him as “The Big Maestro.”

NBA star Shaquille O’Neal – in traditional black tie and tails – was the featured guest conductor for the Boston Pops Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus during a concert Monday (Dec. 20) at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Before his big moment, the Boston Celtics center got some tips 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,’’ The Jacksons’ “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.’’