It’s a near certainty that Shaquille O’Neal’s ego needs no help maintaining a high sense of self. And sure, he’s earned it; his freakish athleticism and affable (if repetitious) self-promotion have helped him carve out a comfortable niche in the sports and entertainment world. And God, was he ever made for Twitter.
His latest idea might be at once the worst and best. It’s the worst because it can’t possibly be entertaining television. It’s the best because now, finally, for the first time in what must be years, Shaq’s finally going to have to answer for his ludicrous boasts.
The show is called Shaq Vs., and he’s apparently taking on the best of each sport, at their own sport. Why? Because we’re incredibly desperate for ideas, that’s why. USA TODAY has more:
O’Neal, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, also will try his football skills against Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, box retired world champion Oscar De La Hoya, bat against St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, trade tennis volleys with Wimbledon champ Serena Williams and play volleyball against Olympic gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.
O’Neal will negotiate a handicap with his opponents and train with a coach for one week leading up to each challenge.
Because what television really needs is Shaquille O’Neal with a tennis racquet in his hands, running around a court helplessly for 10 minutes before congratulating Serena. Great television there, guys.
No, the sad part is that they were so close to having a truly dynamite idea. You can have Shaq oppose all those people, but handicaps ruin all sense of earnest, even competition. Nobody wants to see things like score adjustments. That’s not fun.
What they ought to do, instead, is pit Shaq against these elite athletes, but in entirely unrelated sports. Why would I want to watch Shaq swim against Michael Phelps when I can see him swim against Albert Pujols? Boxing Oscar de la Hoya? Fine, but only after he warms up with 3 rounds, bare-knuckle, against Shawn Johnson (God rest her soul).
Oh, and I’ll bet Shaq & Phelps could square off with some ridiculous bong rips if they wanted to put the show on something like Showtime instead (and if professional sports could grow the hell up). In all likelihood Phelps has the lung capacity advantage, but I get the feeling Shaq would have the edge on tolerance. Unless he doesn’t smoke, of course. I have no idea if he does. If he doesn’t, well, this idea sucks for the exact same reasons as ABC’s plan does.