What’s seven feet tall and hides away in the wooded banks of a pond in Rochester?

No, not Bigfoot. Apparently, it’s NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.

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Someone recently pointed out in a Facebook group for Rochester residents that a parcel of land in town is identified on Google Maps as “Shaquille O’Neal Hideway” – and we have lots of questions.

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Has the 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time World Champion ever actually hidden away in Rochester? If he’s looking for a place to hide, Rochester is the perfect place to do so. It’s quiet, it’s unassuming, and it’s full of good people that would treat Shaq just like anyone else. The only problem is, he’s one of the most recognizable people in the world, and we definitely would have heard if he was hanging around the Tri-Town area.

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Is it a different Shaquille O’Neal? There’s no question that since Shaq first joined the NBA in 1992, there have been plenty of babies given the moniker of “Shaquille,” and it’s possible that at least one of them has the last name “O’Neal.” But who would saddle a kid with those kinds of expectations? Imagine being named “Shaquille O’Neal” but only growing up to be five-foot-four and unable to shoot a free throw to save your life? Well, actually, that last one might mean you have more in common with Shaq Diesel than one might think.

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Is it just someone messing around? This is probably the most likely scenario. Google Maps acquires its data for populating maps from a variety of sources, and it’s probable that someone named the spot of land “Shaquille O’Neal Hideaway” somewhere and Google pulled that information into its map. But one thing is for sure, it’s not some Photoshop job and is legitimately named that on Google Maps, as our own search brought it up under that name.

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Not only that, but there are reviews of “Shaquille O’Neal Hideway” on Google Maps that go back from before the post in the Rochester group. The oldest is from three months ago, with user Owen Modracek stating, “I constantly feel like someone is looking at me, oh well, great view.” For what it’s worth, there is an Old Rochester Regional High School freshman and artist named Owen Modracek who made headlines this summer with the creation of a new flag for the town, so perhaps he is behind this bit of fun.

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Two months ago, someone named “nixio” reviewed the “Hideaway” by saying “Shaquille O’Neal came running through the bushes” before then making a comment that may or may not have been racist.

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The best review came from “NERDerby” a week ago, stating, “Hospitality accommodations are lacking but overall it’s a nice place. Plan accordingly, there is not much for campfire material. BYO lighter. Have not met Mr. O'Neal yet in decades of visiting the Hideaway but I'm sure it's just poor luck. The twice-daily performance from the Canada Goose synchronized flying team is NOT TO MISS.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: You probably don’t want to be setting fires out there without clearing it with authorities first)

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And after it hit the Facebook group, Google user “Kris Kringle” was quick to post a review, making it a clean sweep of all five-star reviews for the “Hideaway.” “Fabulous location, was lucky enough to see the owner whilst I was visiting. Even managed a picture with him! Lovely guy, very kind, but couldn’t explain his 4’10 height.”

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No matter what the real story is, Shaquille O'Neal Hideway is now on the map. Literally.

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