Shaq On Sharing The Screen With Charles Barkley: “I’ve Always Been A Team Player”
Yesterday, while we said Shaquille O'Neal's move to TNT and Inside the NBA has potential, we expressed reservations about whether having both Shaq and Charles Barkley around is too much for one camera. We weren't the only ones. USA Today's Michael McCarthy raised the issue in a story on Shaq's move, and apparently, the same question came up during a conference call during which Shaq discussed his future career. He didn't sound too worried:
"It is not a concern for me. I've always been a team player."
David Levy, the head of Turner Sports, echoed that lack of concern:
"We have always had four people sitting up there...I think there will be enough to go around for everybody."
Apparently it's a hope shared by Barkley: Levy said Sir Charles endorsed bringing Shaq on board. We'd hope so: it wouldn't make any sense to make a bold move that upset your most popular personality - not to mention the person who, if we had to guess, will remain the show's top dog even with Shaq in studio.
Good thing for Shaq that Barkley wanted him, because there's no question Shaq wanted Inside the NBA. ESPN (unsurprisingly) wanted to snap Shaq up, too, but the NBA studio show is one area where the network can't claim supremacy:
"(Inside the NBA) has always been my favorite show. I thought that was just the best fit for me."
And now the future of that show is partially in Shaq's hands. McCarthy said at one point during the conference call, Shaq was asked if he and Barkley could be a "Kobe and Shaquille"-type combination onscreen. According to McCarthy, Shaq said yes. Presumably, Shaq was thinking on-court results. When we think Shaq and Kobe, though, we think more about what went wrong for those two off the court, how they could no longer coexist as teammates, how they each wanted to lead the pack. And as far as Shaq being a team player goes, that may well be true, but we also can't help but think of an old line someone used about Al Michaels:
"Al is a team player. But it's Al's team."
This won't be Shaq's team - at least not to begin with. Of course, neither were the NBA teams he played on at the end of his career. Shaq needs to carry over that supporting player mentality to make this experiment work, because if both he and Barkley try to be the biggest stars, Inside the NBA won't bear much resemblance to the show he wanted to join.
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