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NBA basketball star Shaquille O'Neal demonstrates his swimming stroke before a news conference with Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps in Baltimore.

Shaquille O'Neal will take on Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps in Baltimore Sunday for the Sept. 15 episode of his reality show. O'Neal will have help from Phelps' own coach, Bob Bowman. O'Neal will have to swim one length of the pool before Phelps can finish two lengths.

They'll also square off in a relay of sorts: O'Neal will have teammates, including medal-winning Olympic swimmers, while Phelps will swim every lap himself.

There could be another edge for the man who said he's known around Orlando as "Shaq-mu." Phelps showed up in a walking boot for a part-of-the-TV-show "news conference" at a restaurant overlooking Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Phelps hobbled after accident

The black boot covers Phelps' right foot entirely and goes almost all the way up to his knee. He injured his right ankle in a car accident a little more than a week ago.

Phelps was driving with an invalid, out-of-state license Aug. 13 when another driver ran a red light, causing the accident, according to Baltimore police.

"I've been in the water this week. Everything is precautionary. Nothing major. I can still train and everything," he said Saturday.

Phelps added with a smile: "I'm actually trying to get in Shaq's head with the boot a little bit. He doesn't know if it's real or fake. I kind of have that working to my advantage."

Can Shaq fit in a high-tech suit?

While the 7-foot-1, 325-pound O'Neal -- about 9 inches taller and 125 heavier than Phelps -- did not say whether he will be outfitted in goggles and flippers Sunday, O'Neal did say: "I'm wearing the same suit he wore in the Olympics. It might take me an hour and a half to get into it, but I'm going to wear it."

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© Randy Sager/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
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Air Date: September 15, 2009 at 9/8c on ABC (season finale)

Episode Synopsis: Shaquille O’Neal will challenge 2009 14-time Gold Medal Olympian and World Champion Michael Phelps in a series of swimming races before a standing room only crowd at Mangione Aquatic Center at Loyola University, MD in the last installment of “Shaq VS,” the new competition series starring NBA superstar Shaquille O’ Neal, airing TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Leading up to the challenge, Shaq, who coins himself “Shaq-mu” for the swimming races, will learn the basics and get swimming tips from Michael Phelps’ swimming coach Bob Bowman. The three different races, one of which includes O’Neal being a part of a relay race team, will pit Baltimore hometown hero Michael Phelps against formidable foe Shaquille O’Neal after agreeing on handicaps for each different race. See if Shaq’s 7′ 1″ massive frame and reach will serve as an advantage against Phelps’ undeniable speed in the water once the races get underway.

Episode Gallery (click the thumbnail for the full image):

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and basketball star Shaquille O'Neil wave to passnegers on a passing boat in the Inner Harbor after a press conference for O'Neil's new reality TV series 'Shaq Vs' at the Rusty Scupper Restuarant...
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BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 22: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and basketball star Shaquille O'Neil wave to passnegers on a passing boat in the Inner Harbor after a press conference for O'Neil's new reality TV series 'Shaq Vs' at the Rusty Scupper Restuarant.Michael Phelps vs shaq
debuts on ABC’s reality show Shaq Vs scheduled to air on Tuesday, September 15th
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It's hard to think of Shaquille O'Neal in a swimming pool, let alone taking on the world's fastest swimmer, Michael Phelps. But that's just one of the challenges -- in addition to a cannonball splash contest we hope -- awaiting the Big Sportstradomus in his new TV show "Shaq Vs."

The witty four-time NBA champion didn't fare quite so well with "Shaq's Big Challenge," his first TV show which helped overweight kids shed pounds, but ABC decided to give the former MVP another shot, and they certainly reeled in the big names. In addition to swimming against Phelps, the Diesel is set to play football with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, box with the golden boy Oscar De La Hoya and, in the episode I'll surely TiVo, play beach volleyball with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Other participating athletes include tennis sensation Serena Williams and St. Louis Cardinals hitter Albert Pujols.

It looks like the big guy has his work cut out for him.

In an interview with USA Today, the 37-year-old Cavaliers center said it was a great way to train during the off-season and that he thinks people would "really want to see an athlete play another sport."

In the official press statement he added, "These athletes may be on top of their game, but I am up for the challenge. I plan to train hard and win, so look out."

If only the show featured a rap battle between him and Nas…

To make things fair, Shaq will be given a handicap, which will be negotiated beforehand, and the show will also use the opportunity for some community work as the athletes spend some time with needy kids.

"Shaq Vs." will premiere Aug. 18 on ABC at 9 p.m.
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During Michael Phelps’ races, camera shots of his mother Debbie were a fixture on NBC. The network showed endless replays of her falling to her seat after that memorable 100 butterfly finish. And after her son won his eighth gold medal, Debbie was all over NBC getting interviewed. Michael’s sisters, Hilary and Whitney were also in Beijing cheering on their little brother. All this coverage of the Phelps family led to one obvious question from our readers: Where was Dad?

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It’s been well-documented that Debbie and Fred Phelps divorced when Michael was 9. Beyond that, little else has been publicized about Michael Phelps’ father.

Fred Phelps is a retired Maryland State Trooper, lives in a suburb of Baltimore and has remarried since divorcing Debbie Phelps in 1993. According to the Baltimore Sun, he watched the Olympics from his home, saying he was “on pins and needles” every time Michael dove into the pool. But, the New York Post reported that Fred has yet to call his son to congratulate him on his Olympic accomplishments.

Following the divorce, Fred Phelps had little contact with his son. Prior to the 2004 Olympics, Michael told a reporter that his father hadn’t even called to congratulate him when he set his first world record. However, the two reconciled prior to the Athens Games and Fred even made the trip to watch his son win six golds and two bronzes. Since then, however, the relationship has reportedly fractured.

Fred Phelps declines most interview requests, citing a desire to have the focus remain on his son.


2nd: who’s the lucky girl?

Michael Phelps has made all the headlines in the pool after going one better than Mark Spitz and winning eight gold medals. Now the women in his life are coming under the spotlight.

Two girls have recently been linked with Beijing’s eight-time gold medalist: US swimmer Amanda Beard and British model Lily Donaldson.

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Beard held the Olympic record for women’s 200 metres breaststroke after her win in Athens, but failed to reach the final in Beijing.

She recently posed nude for an anti-fur ad campaign by using the Olympics for maximum exposure. Like US tennis player Ashley Harkleroad, Beard has also posed nude for Playboy.

Beard, 26, denied that she was dating Phelps, 23, saying, “Eww, that’s nasty. I have never, ever hooked up with Michael Phelps,” Beard told a radio station in Phoenix yesterday.

“Come on, I have really good taste,” she said. “He’s really not my type.” Asked how the rumors have spread, Beard said she had no clue. “We don’t even talk to each other,” she said.

Phelps was equally emphatic in his denial. “I’m not dating Amanda Beard,” he told a TV show. “I think she has a boyfriend.”

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21-year-old Donaldson is the surprise of the two candidates. She is regarded as one of the top models in the world, while she replaced Kate Moss as one of the faces of Burberry.

British beauty Donaldson also quashed rumors it’s her and Phelps has denied both liaisons. Now it’s Rice’s turn.

However, Phelps, has always played down his private life. Before the 2008 Games, the 23-year-old said: “I haven’t got a girlfriend and I can’t do the kind of things all my friends are doing as college students.

“I swim, listen to hip hop and work on my car. But, in my opinion, that’s still a pretty good life. I don’t know whether I’d want to trade it for anything.”

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When it comes to Michael Phelps, Lindsay Lohan is apparently willing to postpone this whole lesbian thing. While interviewing Michael’s mom Debbie on Monday, Access Hollywood correspondent Billy Bush received a text message from Lohan, which he proceeded to show Debbie while on the air. Mom’s reaction was pretty great.

Lohan’s message: “Tell him he’s fu***** amazing, and I want to meet him.”

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Posting this for no other reason than I’ve caught Michael Phelps fever, but: TV Squad has an amusingly stupid list about how the world’s greatest Olympian ever could be inserted into various television series.

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Michael Phelps was caught smoking pot, and the media has had a feast. In all honesty, I was tired of Michael Phelps before he even returned from China. He was in every news story, in every photo, he was the center of attention for the Olympics, which caused other athletes to be ignored. I would say names, but I can’t because the only Olympic competitor that I kept reading about was Michael Phelps. This doesn’t mean by any means that I want him to fail; I just wanted other athletes to be featured – that’s all. Michael Phelps trained hard and worked hard in order to win those eight medals, making his country and his fans proud.

After he was caught smoking pot, his excuse was: ”I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,” Phelps said. “I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

I mean come on! Let’s be honest, the only reason he is sorry is because he got caught. Which even shows his immaturity, how do you go to an university party and smoke pot with everyone else? Have you ever heard from cellphone cameras, both for video and pictures? Did you know that you can make videos out of a camera? Weren’t you aware people will upload this to Facebook? That people will start updating their Twitter status to say you were smoking pot, while uploading the video of you doing it to Youtube?

Now he’s losing his reputation. He is losing his image of an good-old American boy and he’s losing or might lose his endorsement deals. I don’t want to sound like a prude and say I’ve never tried drugs – but that’s it, I tried it – I don’t do that anymore and when I tried it, it wasn’t like I did it for a straight year, it was random occasions, maybe 3 times top.

michael_phelpsAlign Center

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Michael Phelps had more reasons not to compete than there are ruins in this ancient city.

He was not in tip-top shape after taking six months off after the 2008 Olympics.

He had nothing left to prove after winning a record eight gold medals in Beijing.

What lured Phelps back into the water in March, what has buoyed him here at the swimming world championships when all the talk turned to polyurethane suits, was as elemental as water: the competition.

“My favorite thing is to race, to compete,” he said. “I still don’t like to lose.”

Phelps won four gold medals in five events and set two individual world records, and he still has gotten grief.

He led off the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays and did not give the United States team the lead. He lost in one of his signature events, the 200-meter freestyle, to a previously unheralded German, Paul Biedermann. He watched Milorad Cavic break his world record in the semifinals of the 100-meter butterfly.

But in the 100 butterfly final on Saturday night, Phelps returned the favor. He rallied in the final 50 meters to become the first swimmer to break 50 seconds in the event, with a time of 49.82. Cavic, who was clocked in 49.95, took the silver.

Bob Bowman, his coach, threatened to hold Phelps out of international competitions until the prohibition of polyurethane swimsuits took effect, forcing FINA, the sport’s world governing body, to return to its original ban date of Jan.

“I would be perfectly happy if we adjusted all the records starting with the LZR,” Bowman said, referring to the Speedo LZR Racer. “If we took them all out and went back to 2007, I would be absolutely fine with that.”

That would wipe out seven of Phelps’s long-course world records.

The polyurethane suits, which are so sleek they appear painted on, have rendered times meaningless. But wherever two or more swimmers are gathered to race, Phelps still sees the value in being there.

Source: The New York Times

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Yet another gratuitous photo of Michael Phelps. I’m really not that interested in what’s on his iPod. If he could come over, though, and eat the cookies and stuff I really shouldn’t be eating, I’d appreciate it.

Photo: www.blogs.zdnet.com, Getty Images

Typically, The Dauphin and I would be glued to the ongoing Olympics coverage. Unfortunately for us, we live in the Disadvantaged Time Zone (homage to Ron Judd of the Seattle Times). Therefore, we may see coverage as much as 24 hours after it’s already happened. I also object to the incessant talking, talking, TALKING of NBC’s coverage. Obviously, we have to justify Mr. Costas’ astronomical salary, but couldn’t the network just let something happen without analyzing and discussing it to DEATH while it’s happening?

Obviously, one would have to be living under a rock to have missed the Opening Ceremonies, Michael Phelps, beach volleyball, Michael Phelps, underage Chinese gymnasts, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps… Okay. I watched a medal ceremony the other night. There were three other guys on that dais besides him. Don’t get me wrong. I loves me eight gold medals, baybee. At the same time, wouldn’t it have been a nice gesture to even SHOW the other three guys that took part in the relay as well? Their families are watching. They worked hard, too.

My annoyance has reached critical mass this morning, though, and I’ll explain why. Bob Costas was making what I’m sure he thought was a funny during last night’s late-night coverage about how to cope with sleep deprivation.


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I guess when he’s not swimming, eating, or smoking pot Michael Phelps does seem to have time to pursue other interests. One of them is playing video games. And since he probably won’t be social any time soon, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to pick out some great games to play.

The Countdown

Michael Phelps lists his three favorite NES Games - [Kotaku]

The angry video nerd shows off his NES Collection - [Go Nintendo]

Dork wants a million bucks for missing XBox - [Gear Crave]

Hayden Panettiere wants to help fix heroes - [IO9]

Youtube remixed (Yeah, the whole thing)

riday, May 15, 2009 @08:20am CDT

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Olympic gold medal record-holder Michael Phelps is back in his element on Friday, namely water.

He's returning to competitive swimming in the Charlotte UltraSwim.

He will compete in the 200-meter freestyle and the 100 butterfly.

Part of Phelps' absence from competition was due to a three-month ban after a British tabloid published a picture showing him holding a bong at a party.

He'll continue the competition on Saturday with the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke before wrapping things up with the 100 freestyle on Sunday.

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When the whole world is writing about someone like Michael Phelps, you tend to get a lot of overlap. If you've been following the Olympics by now, you probably know the basics. Phelps grew up just outside of Baltimore, and battled ADHD as a kid. He was raised, mostly, by his mother, Debbie, a middle school principal. He adored and idolized his two older sisters, Whitney and Hilary, and they're the main reason he became a swimmer. Michael's father, Fred, wasn't around enough (in Michael's opinion) after Fred and Debbie got divorced when he was 9 years old. Father and son have a chilly relationship, and do not speak often, if at all.

You might feel like you've heard those details hundreds of times by now. I decided to rack my brain and try to come up with eight things you might not know. Eight, as you've probably heard, has special significance this week in China, so that's the number we're shooting for. Some are about his personality, some about his equipment, and some are just answers to silly questions I get all the time. But as you watch what could go down as one of the greatest sporting achievements in history, at the very least, you'll be able to explain to your friends why he wears two swim caps in the pool (which is the most frequent question I'm asked about Phelps).

1. HE WEARS TWO SWIM CAPS TO SMOOTH OUT THE WRINKLES FROM THE FIRST: This is actually something a lot of swimmers do, and it's probably more psychological than anything. The goal is to make your head as smooth as possible and thus able to move through the water faster. When races are decided by hundredths of a second, swimmers will try to get any advantage. Mostly, it simply feels more secure. It's a way to keep your goggles tighter to your head as well, but it can also cause problems. In the 200-meter butterfly, Phelps goggles filled up with water. Normally a swimmer can try to rip them off their face if that happens, but not when you're wearing two swim caps.

2. ERIK VENDT, NOT RYAN LOCHTE, IS PROBABLY HIS CLOSEST FRIEND IN SWIMMING: Phelps and Lochte are pals -- they have a shared interest in music, women, life -- but they never talk about swimming. They're too competitive. Vendt, who trained with Phelps the last two years in Michigan, was one of his closest confidants during this difficult year that included uneven training and a broken wrist. They're also roommates during most swim meets. "He's helped me through a lot of tough times (at Michigan)," Phelps said. Other than relay finishes in Athens and Beijing, the most intense yelling I've ever seen Phelps do was one day poolside at the Missouri Grand Prix in Columbia, Mo. Vendt was threatening the American record in the 1,500, and Phelps was bellowing at the top of his lungs, trying to urge Vendt on throughout the race.

Phelps, who considers himself completely non-political, often finds himself in the middle of political discussions because Vendt, a ardent Ron Paul supporter, is a political junkie and he and fellow Club Wolverine swimmer Davis Tarwater, who trends liberal, love to argue politics before practice with coach Bob Bowman, (who trends conservative and is a McCain supporter). "They go at is right from the start of practice," Phelps says. "They're always like 'Did you see Hillary (Clinton's) speech last night?' and I'm like 'What do you think?' "

3. HE WEARS DIFFERENT SUITS FOR DIFFERENT EVENTS BECAUSE SOME SUITS ARE DESIGNED FOR CERTAIN STROKES: When you watch Phelps swim the freestyle events, he usually wears the kind of Speedo LZR Racer that has straps over his shoulders and goes all the way down to his ankles. But when he swims an event where he needs to perform the butterfly stroke, he only wears the LZR Racer pants. There is so much shoulder motion required for the fly, he feels more comfortable without something over his shoulders. You'll also see him in the relays immediately unzip his suit and pull it off his shoulders and down around his waist. It's not a vanity thing; he's not trying to show off his abs for the cameras. It's because the suits are ridiculously tight (they're designed to compress your body) and most swimmers want to unzip as soon as possible.

4. HE ALMOST NEVER READS ANYTHING WRITTEN ABOUT HIM: Some swimmers obsess over their own press. Write a harsh word about them and they'll let you know it. Phelps stopped reading stuff written about him long ago. Bowman, on the other hand, reads everything. "I'm a big Google guy," Bowman says. He'll print things out and show them to Phelps for motivational purposes, like comments by Ian Thorpe earlier this year that Phelps couldn't win eight gold medals. It was immediately hung in his locker in Ann Arbor. "That kind of stuff literally makes me insane," Phelps says. "It fires me up so much." He does, however, occasionally go on the Internet when he wants to find a picture of himself that he can e-mail to his mom. He can usually remember what he was thinking that exact moment it was taken. "I just like how intense I look," he says.

5. IT'S MOSTLY HIP HOP ON HIS IPOD BEFORE RACES, BUT NOT ALWAYS: Phelps has been listening to 'Lil Wayne this week, an American rapper from New Orleans. He's also a big fan of artists like Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and, of course, Jay-Z. But occasionally he'll mix things up and listen to some techno. Though it was often written that Phelps listened to Eminem's "Till I Collapse" before every race in Athens, Phelps says that's not true. "It's a different song for every meet," he says.

6. HE SPENDS A LOT OF HIS FREE TIME AT HOME PLAYING VIDEO GAMES: He plays a lot of Madden, but he also plays Halo pretty frequently as well. One week, he played so much Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf on his Nintendo Wii, he came to practice with a sore shoulder, and Bowman said if that ever happened again he was taking the video game console away. Video games are one of his favorite escapes, and if he wants to play them, no one is going to stop him. This is especially true of girlfriends or potential girlfriends. "If I want to play video games, I'm playing video games," he says. "If I want to sit around and watch TV, I'm watching TV. No one is changing my mind. I'm pretty easy to get along with, just don't tell me I can't do something."

7. HE KNOWS EXACTLY HOW MANY STROKES IT TAKES FOR HIM TO GET FROM ONE END OF THE POOL TO THE OTHER: When Phelps' goggles filled with water in the 200-meter butterfly Wednesday morning, he didn't freak out like most swimmers would have, even though he couldn't see more than a few meters in front of him. He simply knew how many strokes it would take to get to the wall, and was counting in his head. You can look at that two ways. Either he's an android who drills so often that he can break world records when he's on autopilot, or he's like Ludwig van Beethoven, a virtuoso so in tune with his art, he and was able to compose and perform music even after he went completely deaf.

8. HE LIKES TO FALL ASLEEP WITH THE TELEVISION ON: When you spend half your life in hotel rooms all around the world, the familiar sounds of ESPN or The Discovery Channel can provide some small measure of comfort. When he dreams, it's not of gold medals. It's often of numbers. Before the U.S. Olympic trials, the number 3:07 kept popping into his dreams. After he thought about it, he knew what it meant: He wanted to go 3:07 through the first 300 meters of the 400-meter individual medley. Split it like that, and he could close strong. It would be the perfect race. At trials, he was 3:08 through 300 meters. He set a world record, barely holding off Ryan Lochte. He was pleased, but he knew he could have gone faster.

His first race of the Beijing Olympics, he told Bowman he wanted it to be the last 400 IM he ever swam. Bowman agreed, reluctantly, but only if he set another world record.

Phelps did, blowing away the old mark, finishing in 4 minutes, 3.84 seconds. It looked, in every sense, like the perfect race. He didn't see the point in swimming it again.

He didn't mention it at the time, so it was easy to overlook, especially with all the buzz surrounding his first gold medal. But it's almost eerie looking back at his splits.

At the 300 meter mark, he was 3:07.05.

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