‘Dancing With the Stars’: Shaquille O’Neal Says He ‘Can’t Do’ ABC Series ‘DWTS’ Like Buddy Charles Oakley

Dancing with the Stars has always been a kind of bizarre reality TV phenomenon. In some ways, it represents the inevitable collision of the many types of reality TV that viewers seem to love. You’ve got the competition element so well represented in shows like American Idol with a dash of celebrity voyeurism that draws so many to shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Even if the format does follow some predictable and familiar favorites, the show still provides a delightful clash of talented professional dancers with celebrities who are clearly … well, not necessarily talented professional dancers. 

Part of the fun is never knowing just who might pop up as a contestant, but it looks like fans can mark at least one name off the list of possibilities. 

Shaquille O'Neal smiling, looking to the right
Shaquille O’Neal | Nathan Congleton/Getty Images

‘DWTS’ is on Season 29

Premiering on ABC in 2005, DWTS is now remarkably in its 29th season. Notably, the most recent season has brought some serious changes. Host Tom Bergeron had been with the show since its inception, but Season 29 saw Tyra Banks stepping in to fill the spot. The season also made history by finally bringing on the first Black professional dancer with the addition of cast member Britt Stewart. While these notable changes have definitely gotten fans excited about the current season, it has not been an easy run. 

The pandemic has made filming the live show a serious challenge. Backstage, the contestants have to wear masks and stay at least eight feet apart, making it difficult for them to talk and bond the way a cast normally would. One big change that the pandemic has caused is the removal of the live studio audience. The contestants have remarked on how strange it feels to perform without onlookers. 

Shaquille O’Neal would be a big ‘DWTS’ draw

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While the professionals definitely bring the best moves to the stage, it’s the celebrities who keep fans tuned in and excited to see who will be cast next. When the show brought on Carole Baskin — made famous by her villainous role in Netflix’s Tiger King documentary — it showed that the net would be cast wide to find the most interesting contestants to play the part of the “stars.” 

Some athletes have taken a turn in the cast over the years. As Popculture reports, fans have gotten to see the moves of champion boxer Evander Holyfield, former NFL player Jerry Rice, former track star Maurice Green, UFC champion Chuck Liddell, and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft among others.

With this star-studded list of athletic alums, some fans have been wondering if Shaquille O’Neal would ever take a turn in the DWTS spotlight. O’Neal is well-known as one of the best basketball players to ever grace the NBA, and today he’s a successful businessman who has turned his professional athletic retirement into a story of wealth and ongoing public appearances. With his continued celebrity status, DWTS could be a good fit. 

Shaquille O’Neal has ruled out a ‘DWTS’ performance 

Even though fans would likely enjoy seeing O’Neal take a part in the competition, he has made it clear that DWTS is not in his future. Speaking to Us Weekly, O’Neal said, “I can’t do it, yeah. I wouldn’t do it now. I like being the innovator. If it was season 1, I would do it. But I can’t do it in season 2 [or after].” At this point, O’Neal’s presence would just be one of many in a long line of celebrity athletes, and that’s not his style. He’s used to being the leader of the pack, and coming onto the show at this point wouldn’t feel flashy enough. 

That doesn’t mean he has love lost for fellow former NBA star Charles Oakley who did make an appearance on the show. “I thought his feet work was pretty nice. He looked really good at something that they’d been wanting me to do for a while, but I don’t have enough discipline and courage to do it,” O’Neal praised.