BOSTON – We know that Tacko Fall is a tall dude, but constantly being surrounded by other tall dudes somehow manages to mute his real world appearance.
Fall, dressed in full formal conductor attire, seemingly scraped the “Beethoven” inscription at the top of Symphony Hall as he took the stage.
It was the first time in Fall’s life that he’s worn a tuxedo.
“I look good,” he said before his performance, surveying the custom made tailcoat. “At least that’s what they say. It’s my first tuxedo, but hopefully it won’t be the last. I like the look.”
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It’s hard to find a description of Fall’s NBA life that isn’t cliche. It really has been months-long whirlwind filled with the inconceivable. On Sunday night, nearly 20,000 people in the TD Garden were chanting for Fall to get into a Boston Celtics game. 24 hours later he was standing next to Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, getting a crash course in how to lead 85 master musicians in “Sleigh Ride.” Luckily for Fall, the pre-show course was a bit simpler than the Celtics’ defensive gameplan.
“Hold the baton as if you’re shaking hands with it,” Lockhart began, as he hummed the Sleigh Ride tune, instructing Fall in when to raise and drop the baton to the beat. “That tells them how fast it’s going to go after that, and exactly when to start together. And that’s how you get 85 people to exactly the same thing at the same time. What you do after that in this piece is not going to really matter.”
The simplicity was part of the selling point. So was the history of Celtics centers past pulling this off.”
“As soon as (I was told) Shaq did it, I was sold,” Fall said.
Fall says he wasn’t nervous going into his performance. If anything, he was too amazed by everything to have time to be nervous about anything.
“I think about it every night,” Fall said. “I talk to my mom pretty much every day. Some of the conversations we have is like — everything has changed. Everything that has been going on has been crazy. But at the same time, I always try to sit back and reflect and always have a sense of thankfulness.”
He fully embraced this moment. Playing to the crowd while he swung his baton inscribed with the words “congratulations to Tacko, Keith Lockhart.” He spun, he swayed, he shimmied, adding another memory to a career already full of more than most get to experience.
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