Shaq hits beach, takes on May-Treanor and Walsh
He’s starring in a new reality show on ABC, called “Shaq vs.,” where he battles other superstar athletes at their sports. He’ll take on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya, swimmer Michael Phelps and Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.
He’ll start Sunday, when he’ll play pro beach volleyball players and two-time Olympic gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. He’ll play with Olympic gold medalist Todd Rogers, and Rogers’ partner Phil Dalhausser will coach.
“I just now added Hermosa Beach sand to my salad. I eat sand,” O’Neal said during a news conference with May-Treanor and Walsh.
Their banter was light-hearted, yet Shaq is taking this seriously. He believes he has what it takes to win the challenge – and he better, because if he loses, he has to walk two miles in a pink Speedo.
“Three sizes too small,” he said.
O’Neal thought about instituting some kind of handicap, but decided against it so as not to give May-Treanor and Walsh any excuses.
“I don’t want to have any advantage over these beautiful ladies when I spank them,” he said.
May-Treanor and Walsh are excited, but remain confident they can take Shaq. Walsh said she would ask her husband, beach volleyball player Casey Jennings, for advice about playing men.
“He’ll have some tips about how to get him down and dirty, and tool him and use him and make him feel like he’s not 7-1,” Walsh said.
The match will be best of three games to 11.
Walsh and May-Treanor have not played together in a year. May-Treanor tore her Achilles' tendon while training on “Dancing With the Stars” and Walsh had a baby in May. May-Treanor is healthy again, but will not play with Walsh this weekend at the Hermosa Beach Open.
“When we locked eyes at the set it’s like we never left,” May-Treanor said.
To which Shaq spent the next few minutes humming romantic music while they tried to talk. The result? “We’re highly motivated,” Walsh said.
Shaq said the idea stemmed from the “male bravado” every guy believes in. All couch potatoes, he said, think they could perform the sports acts they watch on TV, such as Roethlisberger’s late touchdown throw in the Super Bowl, if put in the same situation. He’s testing it out.
“I always have a chance. It’s going to be athleticism vs. athleticism,” he said.
O’Neal also reached out to Lance Armstrong and David Beckham, but neither one has accepted. O’Neal understands Armstrong’s hesitation, what with the 100 mile-plus days on the Tour de France.
“I wouldn’t say he’s scared, probably just tired,” O’Neal said.
He’s less understanding of Beckham, though, referring to him as “Davina Beckham.”
He also said he would love to beat President Obama in one-on-one, but knows the president is probably busy.
Walsh’s advice to O’Neal didn’t stem from volleyball but rather working through potential embarrassment after a loss.
“Do some lunges,” she said. “Get those buns in shape.”
-- Bill Brink
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal holds a giant panda on his lap at the Panda Breeding Research Center in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province on July 16. Photo credit: Getty Images.