Basketball great and Newark native Shaquille O'Neal is endorsing Chris Christie for governor in a new television ad.

Governor Christie (R) meets Shaquille O'Neal during a visit to the Statehouse (Governor's Office via Facebook)

"I don’t endorse many politicians. But Chris Christie is different," O'Neal said. "Governor Christie’s provided more funding for schools, given parents more choices in what schools their kids can go to, and merit pay for good teachers," says Shaq in the :30 commercial.

Shaq visited Christie in his office over the summer that made for a fun photo opportunity and, more seriously, helped Christie launch the Just Play initiative to help urban youngsters and their families get better after-school options which calls for the creation of networks of extracurricular support for New Jersey youth. O'Neal is the statewide ambassador for the program and is helping to recruit other athletes.

Shaq also owns a movie theater in Newark, the CityPlex 12, since his retirement from the NBA.

David Matthau contributed to this report