Rick Fox Takes Center Stage on Dancing With The Stars

Rick Fox was far from a superstar with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 13 NBA seasons, including eight with the Lakers, he scored 8,966 points, grabbed 3,517 rebounds and dished out 2,649 assists. But, as many folks are wont to say with a player of his stature, he was a winner. He’s got three NBA Championship rings to prove it. Tonight, he takes that mentality to the Dancing With The Stars stage as the 11th season of the show makes its debut. Once again, Fox isn’t the star of a cast that includes David Hasselhoff, Brandy, Bristol Palin, Audrina Patridge and many more, but some have labeled him the favorite based on his athletic background. Rick Fox joined Into the Night with Tony Bruno to discuss practicing for Dancing With The Stars, dancing with a partner that is more than a foot shorter than he is, whether he has any regrets about doing the show, how practicing dancing compares to practicing basketball, how they determine dance partners and his reaction to a Vegas oddsmaker making him the favorite to win this season.

On practicing for Dancing With The Stars:

“It’s been close to almost a month now that we’ve been going at consistent practices, about six hours a day. I’ve had my share of moments where I feel like I might get somewhere as a dancer and then moments where I feel like, ‘Man, there’s no way I’m going to get my ballroom card after this.’”
On dancing with Cheryl Burke who, at 5-foot-4, is 15 inches shorter than him:
“She might as well be 4’5″. There’s enough of a height differential that I’ve gotta focus on not dancing down to her body and keep my frame and my posture up. She’s just going to have to swing off my arms like a jungle gym.”

On whether he has any regrets:

“Not yet. It’s early. I’ve really had a great time. It’s been fun so far. I’ve remained injury-free. Shoot, I dropped a few pounds. I hope they come back to me when I’m done. I’ve lost some weight, my clothes are baggy and I feel almost like I could step back out on the basketball court.”

On how practicing dancing compares to practicing on the court:

“I don’t come out exhausted like I did on the basketball court, but I sweat more than I did when I played. And I’m finding myself, I’m in close body contact with my partner here and it’s not Shaq or Kobe, so I’m not trying to leave all my sweat dripped on her and I’m trying to at least have a little bit of body-odor consciousness. It’s different when you’re playing with a bunch of guys, you’re sweating on each other and you smell like the locker room. It’s different when it’s a young lady that you at least want to have some kind of chemistry.”

On how they pick dancing partners:

“They let you make your list. My list, I had Tony on it because he’s Albanian and my girlfriend’s Albanian. And then I had Max on it, because I figured if Max and I were dancing together, one of us would have to take our shirt off so I figured he could do that. And then I put Cheryl third. You’ve got to go with the hand you’re dealt with, so I got the attractive 5-foot-4, two-time champion.” I almost thought you were serious there. “Come on Tony, we’ve got to work on our bits man.”

On his reaction to being named the favorite by one Vegas oddsmaker:

“We all know what Vegas means, they get everything right. (Laughing) I know I stay at the Wynn a lot. That’s a nice compliment. … I think I will maybe not, out of the gates, be the favorite. I think there’s a lot of improvement that’s ahead for me. He’s right about [my ex-wife Vanessa Williams], she could do it all. I tell you, you talk about a ballroom dancer, she was excellent. … In terms of just improving, I think that’s the strength of this competition. America likes watching people improve and I’ll have to improve if I’m going to win and I plan to.”

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