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Pops topper

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / December 18, 2010

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Santa Claus is a regular at Holiday Pops shows, but Shaq-a-Claus? Yes, Shaquille O’Neal, the Celtics center, will join the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall Monday, subbing for conductor Keith Lockhart on the Christmas classic “Sleigh Ride.’’ We’re not sure when the Big Shamrock last led a symphony orchestra, but we’re guessing it’s been awhile. And Lockhart in the low post? No thanks.

HEIGHT/WEIGHT

Keith: 5-foot-9, 175 pounds Shaq: 7-foot-1, 345 pounds

PREDECESSORS

Keith: Arthur Fiedler, John Williams Shaq: Bill Russell, Robert Parish

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH

Keith: June Lockhart Shaq: Tip O’Neill

PREVIOUS EMPLOYER

Keith: Cincinnati Pops Shaq: Cleveland Cavaliers

INDISPENSABLE ASSISTANT

Keith: Concert master Tamara Smirnova Shaq: Celtics captain Paul Pierce

TOOL OF THE TRADE

Keith: Baton Shaq: Elbow

MUSIC BACKGROUND

Keith: Degrees from Furman and Carnegie Mellon universities Shaq: Plays the Jazz twice a year

BLING

Keith: Do cuff links count? Shaq: Four NBA championship rings

CAMEO IN A SEXY MEMOIR

Keith: Blair Tindall details her dalliances with the conductor in “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music’’ Shaq: Karrine Steffans writes about her rendezvous with Shaq in “Confessions of a Video Vixen’’

NOTABLE FILM/TV CREDIT

Keith: “Elmo’s Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf’’ Shaq: “The House Bunny’’