Shaqenfreude, Part 2: The 1st “Shaq Vs.”

August 19th, 2009 by John Krolik

Before we begin, a link: fantasy uberguru Eric Wong of and has asked me to direct your inquiring eyes to his Cavaliers fantasy preview, and I saw no reason not to oblige him. It’s for fantasy, so take it with that particular brand of salt, but Eric has no rooting interest, and when he’s wrong about stuff, he loses money. And Eric’s made a lot more than he’s lost. So I’d say his thoughts are worth a read.

But onto more pressing business, “Shaq vs.” had its inaugural episode Tuesday night, and I was watching in a professional capacity, because I have a duty to all of you. Also, I was bored. Without further ado:

-The first thing to notice about “Shaq vs.” is that Mike Goldberg, the UFC guy, does all the commentary, which gives the whole endeavor an extremely weird feeling.

-The show comes from a high-school football stadium in Western Pennsylvania, or “football country.” I’m going to assume he meant America.

-The idea behind the show is that Shaq will challenge the best people in their respective sports at their sports, because that will prove something, somehow.

-Shaq’s 1st opponent is Ben Roethlisberger, the 2-time NFL champion Steelers quarterback. He has done nothing notable since winning the super bowl.

-The “rules” of this contest aren’t revealed to the viewers until around 15 minutes into the show-up to that point, we get Shaq’s shtick and some of Shaq palling around with Big Ben in his house.

-The less said about Shaq’s discourse with Big Ben, the better.

-The rules are that Shaq will get three tries to score from the 20-yard line, while Ben gets three tries from the 40-yard line. Basically, this show is exactly the same as Pros vs. Joes, except it has Shaq and actual current pros and I’m forcing myself to watch it.

-Shaq plays Ben at HORSE and “deliberately” loses. Shaq’s plan is to “get inside Ben’s head” and get the advantage that way. Not to be mean, but taking away Big Ben’s cerebral game might be kind of like game-planning to take away Shaq’s perimeter game.

-There are clips of Shaq’s “challenge” press conference with Ben, featuring media members who more or less embody despair. Hooray.


-And of course, there’s a color guy. He’s sort of a cross between John Leguizamo and Vince from ShamWow!

-And there’s a sideline reporter. Of course there’s a sideline reporter.

-I’ll skip right over the part where Shaq “steals” Charlie Batch as his coach and get to the part of the show I found actually interesting. Shaq’s 40-yard dash is terrible, but the coach seems genuinely impressed by Shaq’s time at the lateral agility drill, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s watched Shaq over his career-it’s Shaq’s quickness for a guy so freakishly large that’s made him a Hall-0f-famer. (Worth noting: A Hall-of-Famer AS A BASKETBALL PLAYER, NOT A VARIETY SHOW HOST.)

-At the 35-minute mark, I officially have no clue why anyone would watch this show voluntarily. Although we have learned that Ben is “The most competitive person he knows.” Awesome.

-41 minutes into this show, Shaq and Ben actually start playing football. Thank the Lord.

-Shaq gets touchdowns on his first two possessions by firing all-or-nothing bombs into the end zone, while Ben works down the field for his first two scores.

-On Ben’s 2nd possession, Shaq jumps off the sidelines and picks off a Big Ben pass, then takes it to the house for no reason. The play is, obviously, ruled moot. At least everyone is taking this seriously.

-On Shaq’s third possession, Shaq gets to a 1st-and-goal from the 6, has a wide-open man underneath for the score, then pump-fakes and tries to throw a corner fade, which gets picked off. I sense some shenannigans about.

-Big Ben scores on his third and final possession for the win! What are the odds? Actually, I’d feel a lot better if this show was scripted.

-It still hasn’t fully sunk in for me that Shaq is going to be the starting center for the Cavs next season, like Betty Draper not really being able to wrap her mind around Don’s extra-curricular activities in season 1 of Mad Men. Willful semi-ignorance is bliss right now.

-Well, that’s all I can really muster in terms of meaningful analysis of Shaq Vs. right now. I don’t know how you guys felt, but ultimately this goofy man is the Cavs’ starting center, so it’s probably best to just trust that he knows what he’s doing. Until tomorrow, folks.