“Shaq vs.” Ethics

Shaq stole the idea for "Shaq vs." from Steve Nash. Nice guy.

Last season, Shaquille O’Neal walked onto the Phoenix Suns team bus to get to a game, and announced to everyone he had just inked a deal to have his own reality show where he would take on other top athletes in their sport.

The look on Steve Nash’s face could have killed.

Shortly after O'Neal was traded to the Suns in February 2008, Nash mentioned to his new teammate a reality show he was pursuing. It would feature the Suns point guard taking on professional athletes in their own sport. The topic didn't come up again until early in the 2008-09 season, when O'Neal boarded the Suns bus and told the team he would be starring in a new reality show in which he would be taking on, you got it, professional athletes in their own sport.

"You mean the idea you stole from me?" one Suns representative said he heard Nash say.

When Shaq went Carlos Mencia, Nash did the smart thing — he got an entertainment lawyer. If you watch the credits as they roll for “Shaq vs.” you will see it say Executive Producer Steve Nash. And if Ari Gold taught us anything on this year’s less-than-stellar season of “Entourage,” it’s that producing a few years of even mediocre television will set you up for life financially. As if Nash needed more cash, but still.

To be fair, this show is a lot more entertaining with the big personality and big body of Shaq then it would be with the thoughtful and polite-to-a-fault Canadian Nash. Shaq can carry a television program, and “Shaq vs.” first episode was surprisingly entertaining. Nash is an MVP, but he is not the child trapped in a giant’s body that Shaq is.

But Nash is also savvy — if Shaq had come to him and made that pitch about personalities carrying the show, Nash may well have gone for it. However, Shaq really is a big kid with limited impulse control, and he goes for what he wants. Ethics and morals be damned.

Somewhere, Kobe Bryant is reading about this and laughing his ass off.

Kurt Helin is one of the seven people in Los Angeles without his own reality show, and he runs the NBA/Lakers blog Forum Blue & Gold (which you can also follow in twitter).

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