Shaq and TV: like, rice and peas. Like, coffee and the morning. Like, a rash and scratching. It’s a natural fit. We all know it. The man was made to perform – whether it be on the basketball court or in the media, we can’t get enough of him and he can’t get enough of the limelight. Below, his Professor, Dave Ryan, explains what type of student Shaq was when he attended Syracuse University for some broadcasting lessons (no, he wasn’t the class clown). It’s impressive how Shaq truly applies himself, as you’ll see below, because he could have easily picked whatever position he wanted in the field. And, it’s equally impressive that he’s doing the studying in the years prior to his retirement – really getting a head start on things. Dave Ryan joined The Fan 590 in Toronto to discuss the media circus in Syracuse, who Shaq wants to emulate in the broadcast world, and how hard Shaq worked.
What happened when Shaq arrived at Syracuse University?
“The funniest thing is we thought we could keep it quiet but as soon he walked out of the hotel, the first day he was here, I picked him up… So, we went to Marshall Street for a Starbucks and people looked up, the looks on their faces, the reactions, I mean these huge eyes, ‘Who is this?’ Then you see the phones come out and then the Twitters start, and then the texts start. So, it took about ten minutes, once he arrived for people to realize that he was in town, and then the media crush was on for the next two days.”
What did Shaq want to learn about?
“He wanted to learn some of the x’s and o’s, the ins and outs of how to start a segment by himself, how to host a show, how to do radio and TV. He was not interested in the play-by-play aspect… He wanted to be like kind of a mixture between a Bryant Gumbel and a Jim Rome, that was his goal coming in. He just wanted to learn some terminology and get a feel for making some mistakes without being on the air… Any network in Canada or the US would take him immediately – TNT, I know already offered him to do a contract with (Charles) Barkley, and (Kenny) Smith, and Ernie (Johnson)… So, he can walk right in but he wanted some official training first… The best thing about it guys, he was an incredible student. And, just like him becoming a police officer, he learned quickly, and he applied whatever he learned immediately. It was no fooling around. So, he was real coachable – it was a real pleasure.”
Did Shaq soak it all up?
“He progressed faster than I ever could have dreamed. We had this curriculum set up of things we were gonna do, and said to ourselves before hand, ‘Well, he’ll probably only get to step B.’ Well, he got to step Z right away, so we had to make adjustments on the fly… What amazed me too guys about him – he was tireless, I mean, inexhaustible. We kept going and going and he said ‘Give me more, bring on more, it’s ok.’ (Do you wanna a dinner break?) No, dinner break, just give me a quick sandwich. Keep going.”