Almost as funny as the way he delivers the phrase are the actual words themselves. Barbecue. Chicken. Alert. Seriously, who the heck says “barbecue chicken alert” outside of a restaurant setting? Only Shaq, I tell you.
So what does the phrase actually mean?
You’ve probably noticed that Shaq tends to say “barbecue chicken alert” in the context of talking about centers dominating down low. Back when he was still playing, Shaq actually gave a hint about what barbecue chicken means.
Following a 2009 game where he went for 45 points while playing with the Suns against the Raptors, Shaq had this to say:
“I think I’m the only player,” Shaquille O’Neal said, “who looks at each and every center in the league and says, ‘That’s barbecue chicken down there.”
Based on that comment, plus the context in which Shaq has said the phrase every time since, we can pretty much figure out what “barbecue chicken alert” means. That’s essentially Shaq’s way of saying that’s meat down there, an easy meal, something you can cook, roast and eat up all game.
It’s a goofy saying, but it’s so Shaq. And the way he says it, with his deep voice and intonations, and the way he repeats it, makes it funny and memorable. It’s almost as good as the way he says, “Birdman Birdman!”
And here’s Shaq saying “barbecue chicken alert”: