THE SPORTS DOCTOR- Ego buster: Shaq's show should take him down a notch
If you were to look up the 1996 movie Kazaam on IMDB, you would be treated to the following review:
"This is the worst film I have ever seen... The plot was bad and there wasn't a single likeable character. I gave this movie a '1' only because the scale didn't go into negative numbers. Avoid this movie at all costs."
Here's a refresher: Max, a young boy from the ‘hood,' pulls a fast one on a local gang, which then seeks revenge. Max's only hope lies in Kazaam, a genie who has been trapped inside a boom box for thousands of years.
Paul Michael Glaser never directed another feature, instead acting in single episodes of whatever the USA Network throws his way. Ally Walker garnered a few recurring TV roles since appearing in Kazaam, but has had only a small part in one film. Neither unexpectedly nor undeservedly, Kazaam just about killed the show-business careers of everyone involved, save one man.
For some highly dubious reason, ABC has ordered a new reality show starring none other than that career-killer, Shaquille O'Neal. Unfortunately, the show doesn't center on Shaq's quest for a productive free throw; no, that would make too much sense. Instead, the aptly named Shaq Vs. will pit the 7'1" center against athletes like Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, Oscar De La Hoya and Albert Pujols, all in their respective sports.
At first glance, ABC executives seem totally crazy. Honestly, who but a bunch of lunatics would greenlight such an inane show? One would think even an oft taste-free network like ABC, home of The Bachelorette, Wife Swap, and I Survived a Japanese Game Show would have paused when Shaq pitched the idea, but the opposite is true; ABC jumped on it and lavished praise on O'Neal.
"He has a fun sort of childish persona, and at the same time he's a superstar," says John Saade, co-chief of ABC's reality programming. "Our real hope is you come for the absurdity but you stay for the sport."
There's no doubt Shaq is the most talented big man in the NBA. His footwork is unmatched, and he is a master at maneuvering his opponents where he wants them. Still, as much effort as Shaq puts in on the court, he seems to put an equal or greater amount into making a jackass of himself and inflating his ego to humongous proportions.
Case in point: Shaq's ill-fated 2007 television show, Shaq's Big Challenge. It took less than a month for the show to go off the air. Shaq's heavy-handed effort to turn obese kids into less-than-obese kids was poorly planned and even more poorly executed. Kids cried, got sick, dropped out, and Shaq himself showed his behind when schools didn't immediately implement his P.E. and cafeteria programs.
And what about the athletes? You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger ego than Shaq's, and he doesn't plan on curbing it for his latest TV venture. There will be a lot of "trash talking," but "when it comes to competing, there is no joking," O'Neal told USA Today.
Trash talking? Something like "Kobe, tell me how my a** tastes," Shaq's infamous 2008 rap about former teammate Kobe Bryant? Or maybe trash refers to O'Neal's 2003 racial tirade on FOX when he said "Tell Yao Ming, ‘ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh.'" Perhaps Shaq means something more along the lines of his near daily insults of Dwight Howard, calling him an "imposter" and posting a photo on Twitter of what a Howard and Stan Van Gundy child would look like.
ABC was right in that an athlete can hardly hope to be more childish that Shaq, and the show will definitely be absurd. Even if O'Neal refrains from making kids cry and crossing the line with his competition, the show can't succeed where Kazaam and his other show-biz efforts have failed. Shaq Vs. can't do anything but deflate Shaq's ego.
But what's bad for Shaq may be good for ABC. Really, what could be more entertaining than watching one of the biggest babies in sports try to prove his claim that he will "excel at swimming and football" when Michael Phelps and Ben Roethisberger are his competition?