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NBA Celebrity appearances boost excitement for Milwaukee playoff run

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It was a night like few others in Milwaukee's sports history. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Championships, Shaquille O'Neal chanted the city's name on national TV. The Bucks had just won after a nail-biting comeback, Fiserv Forum was packed, and so was the Deer District outside.

What are the playoffs doing for Milwaukee's economy? With a national audience seeing Milwaukee beauty shots and Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal being caught on camera enjoying hot spots all over the city, it's bringing recognition to the Bucks' hometown.

The window at Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant has been full all morning.

"I come here probably four times a week," said Akyaa Smith, a restaurant regular.

In addition to the regulars, the Thursday morning breakfast rush is thanks to a name-drop on national television

"Let me give a shout out. I went to my favorite soul food restaurant today, Perkins," said Charles Barkley during the middle of a segment on NBA on TNT. "I had my chitlins. Shaq is going tomorrow... I'm going to see ya'll every day in Milwaukee."

"He said he was coming when he got to Milwaukee and he didn't disappoint us," said Cherry Perkins, Owner/Operator of Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant

Perkins says she considers Barkley a friend. He was a frequent of the restaurant during his NBA days.

"He ate what he always talks about on TV. He ordered chitlins, macaroni and cheese, yams and dressing," said Perkins.

On Wednesday, the same day as Game 1, Charles Barkley ate at his favorite Milwaukee restaurant and Shaq hosted a party at Lucid Light Lounge.

"This is probably more important than a convention or a one time thing," said Dr. Walter Melnik, Asst. Professor of Economics, Marquette.

Dr. Melnik says the celebrity sightings help put Milwaukee on the map.

"One of the big impacts of professional sports team is that it's hard to quantify but real impact is giving the city some recognition. Think about Green Bay and the Packers."

Thursday morning inside the packed Mr. Perkins, some waited for another sighting of Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.

"Today was a busy day. Busy is always good," said Perkins.

The regulars are just thankful for the recognition.

"I was so glad when Chuck said that. I'm not even mad at him anymore. When he said that I said, 'It's about time. It's about time.' Because this has been the spot, it's been the spot for years," said restaurant regular, Hudson Avery Jr.

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