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Shaq Denied Entrance to White House

Shaq demonstrates The Claw.

So last week on The Mike Wise Show, Shaquille O'Neal posed one of the timeless questions of our era: If I show up, unannounced, at the White House, could I get in?

Turns out this was no idle speculation. It was an actual bet, between Shaq and one of his handlers, with the loser owing the winner 1,000 push-ups. Even as bloggers were wondering which celebrities might have the clout to manage that feat, Shaq laid out the guidelines Monday night at Verizon Center, while prepping for his turn as guest host of WWE's RAW.

"The rule was I couldn't use any of my political connections," he explained. "Couldn't show a badge. I couldn't call anybody, because I've got a couple of best friends that work for the Secret Service. So that was the rule. They took my phone away, I jumped in a cab, went up there, and the guy wouldn't let me in."

Just a straight-up no, then?

"I went to the gate," he said. "They were nice. They said, 'Shaq, we can't do it.' I said, 'I understand.' Understood."

And he didn't try to argue his way in?

"Never that," he said. "Never that. No way."

(This was, of course, a slightly different tone than on his Twitter feed, where he responded to rejection with this: "The white house wouldn't let me in, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.")

Anyhow, Shaq left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in defeat Sunday, 1,000 push-ups in arrears. He said he was popping them off in bursts of 20 or 30 all day, and that he had already logged about 100 by the time we saw him in the production room Monday evening.

While I was there, I asked Shaq what he knows about the simmering Wiz-Cavs rivalry. He threw several gallons of cold iced-tea on that talk.

"I don't know anything about it," he said.

Wizards fans hate the Cavs more than just about any team, I said.

"Ok," Shaq replied. "I guess when you become part of a certain organization, you inherit certain things, but I've been in the league 17, 18 years, and I can withstand anything. The good thing about this crowd, if it still remains that way, it'll be great basketball for the city of Washington D.C., a fabulous town for basketball. So if I get booed or we get heckled or sheckled, it'll be a great day for D.C."

More from Shaq:

On why he's doing WWE: "Well, one, I'm a fan. My kids are fans. Me and Shane McMahon have been friends for a long time, so Vince called me and he asked me would I like to host. I asked my kids if they wanted me to host, they said they wanted me to host, so actually I'm just doing my fatherly societal fan duties."

On whether he boasts a favorite finishing move: "Yeah, The Claw. You grab somebody in the head and make them cry. Want me to show you?" [Yes, he then grabbed my skull with his hand.]

On what happens if he Claws someone: "Now? I'll probably get locked up and you guys would probably write a bad article about me, TMZ will be looking for me."

On when he got interested in WWE: "As a young boy. Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant. I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of guys, I also consider them to be great athletes. You know, they respect me, I respect them."

(Not long after, John Cena entered, and Shaq made like he couldn't feel his face.

"Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to say hello," Cena said.

"What's going on big man, how you doing, nice to see you brother, you all right?" Shaq said.

"It means a lot to us for you to be out here," Cena said. "Awesome. Hope you have some fun.")

On whether he's getting in the ring tonight: "I can't tell you."

On whether he'd ever wrestle Kobe Bryant: "No."

On the origins of his newest TV show, Shaq Vs.: "I like to do things that other people can't do....So one bet was if Michael Phelps has to go down and back and I have to go down, do you think I can beat him? Everybody says no, but I say yes. The whole premise of the show is me training with other great athletes and competing against them at their sport."

(If you're the paying attention sort, you might recall that a guy wrote a book with precisely the same premise. That would be Todd Gallagher, whose exploits included training for and then shooting free throws against DeShawn Stevenson not 300 yards from where Shaq sat today. Gallagher also wanted to do a TV show in which he competed in handicapped matches against pro athletes. Somehow, Shaq wound up with the same exact show. Weird.)

On if he has an opinion about, of all things, the Henry Louis Gates arrest: "Not really, because I'm actually on both sides. You know, they teach you in ever law enforcement training that every law enforcement [official] goes through something different, so I don't really have an opinion on it. I have a deep respect for the president, I have a deep respect for law enforcement, so rule number one is mind your own business. I don't really know what goes on."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 27, 2009; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  NBA  
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Not a wrastling fan, but when my buddy told me Shaq was in DC for this WWE, I wouldn't go but did watch the highlights on TV.

That White House story is a great one too! Glad you covered it.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | July 28, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to think he would have been successful if he hadn't signed with Cleveland this summer.

Doors should be shutting in his face all over DC from here on out...

Posted by: kmg27 | July 28, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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