Tuesday, January 23, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 80



Sports and entertainment: a good pair 
in theory, at least

Commentary With...

Keenan Singleton

The fusion between entertainment and sports is an interesting one, to say the least. The trend hit full stride in the early 1980s when the likes of Walt Frazier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took a break from the basketball court to appear in films. Frazier was in a small film called Aaron Loves Angela (1975), but most will remember Abdul-Jabbar in his very funny role as Roger Murdoch in Airplane!(1980).

More recently, weive seen Dean Cain, who played college football and was drafted by the NFLis Buffalo Bills, become a big TV star in his role as Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Ray Allen of the NBAis Milwaukee Bucks starred alongside Oscar winner Denzel Washington in Spike Leeis drama He Got Game.

The Los Angeles Lakersi Rick Fox is an aspiring actor (one of the reasons he agreed to take less money to play in Los Angeles when he became a restricted free agent in Boston). Also, the Lakersi Shaquille OiNeal has at least three movies on his résumé.


Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is one of the many pro athletes who have tried and failed to make a successful transition into the entertainment business.

Photo courtesy 
of Global Entertainment

OiNealis former teammate, the enigmatic Dennis Rodman, starred in the films <I>Simon Sez<P> and <I>Double Team<P> and has appeared in his own television show, The Rodman World Tour, on MTV.

A number of athletes can claim they have their own shoe and their own CDs. Wayman Tisdale was not only a power forward for the Phoenix Suns, but also a very talented jazz bassist.

Of course, OiNeal has many rap CDs in record stores, and the Philadelphia 76ersi Allen Iverson released a controversial rap album late last year.

A handful of entertainers have attempted to take their shots at professional sports, and humorous attempts have been made to meld the two -- for example, when country music superstar Garth Brooks was invited to work out with the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets.

Former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez made numerous cameos on Seinfeld, and Chicago Cubs firstbaseman Mark Grace appeared in the Jim Belushi feature Taking Care of Business.

And of course, Percy Miller (a.k.a. Master P) actually played a few NBA exhibition games wearing the uniforms of the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors.

But there is a line to draw between these two worlds, and I believe that line has been drawn courtesy of boxer-turned-singer (if thatis what he wants to call it) Oscar De La Hoya.

Come on now. Is this guy serious? De La Hoya is to music what Don King is to boxing -- he ruins it.

Granted, this is just an opinion, but have you seen the man perform live? When De La Hoya appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in December, not only did the former champ sing off-key, but his music sounded like a rip-off of Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias. Hey, at least those guys can sing and dance. 

De La Hoya looks like heis been hit in the head too many times to be on stage in leather pants asking his senorita to run to him. The guy canit dance, and he really canit sing. Itis a comedic performance if anything. And I donit care if his CD sounds decent -- a recording booth can work wonders. If he canit perform live, he loses my respect.

This is not a knock on Latin music. The genre truly is a wonderful expression of the heart and soul, but De La Hoya has turned it into just another way to make money. He canit fight anymore, and heis obviously not educated (enough), so he turns to the entertainment industry. The manis 1-800-COLLECT commercials were 10 times better than his music.

De La Hoya isnit the only culprit of this unsuccessful transition, however. Thereis also OiNeal, who is a decent rapper, but whose acting skills are reminiscent of the performances on teeny-bopper sitcoms.

There has been a silver lining. Tisdale is a very talented musician and is a very hot commodity in the Phoenix jazz scene. Cain has become a respectable actor and hosts episodes of Ripleyis Believe it or Not. Master P was cut from the Hornets and the Raptors, but now plays in the ABA2000 (he newly founded basketball league). Iversonis CD has received rave reviews from hip-hop magazines, despite its lyrics about homosexuality, drug use and brutality toward women.

So all hope is not lost, but the fusion of entertainment and sports is capable of reaching such levels as the less-than-satisfactory to the downright ridiculous.

Or maybe itis just boxers.

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