NBA Embraces Magic Leap With Shaquille O'Neal's Blessing

Shaq Magic Leap Endorsement Recode YouTube Screenshot

The National Basketball Association is partnering with mixed reality startup Magic Leap to embrace an entirely new media format for watching NBA games, the duo said earlier this week at the latest iteration of the Code Media conference hosted by Recode. The announcement was accompanied by a video endorsement from Shaquille O’Neal who called Magic Leap’s technology “the most amazing thing,” explaining how he used the company’s first pair of mixed reality glasses to watch a full court game on his table, not as a two-dimensional projection but a 3D augmented reality experience. The retired NBA star said he even insisted on being featured as part of Magic Leap’s software offering, explaining how the startup ended up scanning him and recording some footage before being able to recreate him as an AR character. “It was like I have a twin brother,” Mr. O’Neal recalled, joking how it took him a while to realize who that “beautiful, tall” person he saw using the mixed reality glasses was.

The full interview with Magic Leap Chief Executive Officer Rony Abovitz starting at the point of the endorsement can be seen below. No other details on the partnership itself have yet been provided, presumably because the Magic Leap One: Creator Edition still doesn’t have a firm release date attached to it. According to the Plantation, Florida-based company’s product announcement from December, the headset will start shipping to developers and tech enthusiasts at some point this year. The first commercial mixed reality solution will eventually be offered in multiple variants, with the most affordable one starting at approximately $1,000, as suggested by Magic Leap during the same interview, though the startup has yet to commit to any firm pricing details as they presumably still haven’t been determined. To date, Magic Leap raised nearly $2 billion from Silicon Valley giants such as Google and Qualcomm but has yet to ship a commercial product.

The glasses themselves are described as being possibly revolutionary in nature, with their creators claiming they have the potential to eventually replace traditional smartphones once the technology is advanced enough. In the meantime, the first generation of the product will come with a dedicated processing unit that’s essentially a computer wired directly to the eyewear and designed to be portable enough for users to attach it to their belts or bags, or even place them in their pockets.