This Seems Healthy.
140 Characters of Ego: August Edition

Dime Q&A: Paul Shirley Talks Steve Nash & Amar’e Stoudemire

By 08.02.11

Phoenix Suns

Dime: Going back to the pilot episode that you did that was for Fox, did you just decide one day you wanted to do this? How was that process? Were you scripting or were you throwing ideas out at other writers that put it together?
PS: I wish I could say that it was something I conceived of on my own. I was, at the time, clueless as to how one even signs a book deal. My aunt and uncle lived next to an agent from William Morris, so I said to them, “Can you help me find an entertainment agent?” So going through him, I found my literary agent but in the process he said, “Why don’t you come up for an idea for a TV show?” I said, OK how about this. How about a guy is on the end of the bench for an NBA team or a team like an NBA team, and we talk about how it’s not like what people think it’s like. He’s like, “Alright gold. Let’s go sell it.” We pitched it to Fox and were kind of downloading ideas to the guy who became the writer. He went off and wrote the actual script, I was just a producer on the show.

I moved to LA and whatever, spent nine months there spending $3.6 million of Fox’s money and got to see how these show ideas get ruined. I thought it was actually a really cool idea, but as it progressed and more people got involved or attached to it, it just got really watered down and was no longer that same voice that had sort of made me popular, which was sort of that anti-NBA culture. People wanted it more to be like Entourage. I was constantly saying, “No, that’s not what we want this to be.” I think what people have always related to in my writing is it’s the every-man doing it. People want in, like, they want to think, “I could do that too,” or “this is how I would behave.” The show got away from that.

Dime: So they’re trying to put it more like, “I’m an NBA player, I’m trying to make it?” Every other NBA person’s story?
PS: They wanted more of the flash and the glitz attached to it. They built this entire mock-up of a team plane, which was ridiculous because we used it for about 12 seconds. And people were like, let’s stock the bar and have a hot waitress and I was like, “No.” That might be fun to watch, but that’s not what we’re going for because that’s not realistic. What we’re trying to do is tell people that this is a life a lot like everyone else’s life, but it’s blown out of proportion because it’s on television. It would probably be funnier, or more relatable, if guys were cramped into seats that were too small or whatever.

Dime: You mentioned being the anti-NBA type of NBA player. Was it more isolating being in NBA locker rooms or overseas, when guys were from different cultures, didn’t speak English?
PS: It was eerily similar. It’s a good corollary actually. You would think in the NBA I’d have plenty of things to talk about. The English was mitigated by a lack of knowledge of anything besides basketball. I’d be overseas and all these guys who travel who can’t express those ideas. In both cases, I was pretty lost. I hate to always romanticize the European angle because a lot of those guys are fairly one-dimensional as well. It’s not perfect over there. I usually got along better with the Americans. There’s a certain type of guy that can handle being in Europe.

Dime: For you, you write and you don’t hold a lot back. I’m sure that has a lot to do with ESPN blackballing you, but did that hurt you in any way just when you’re either with the Suns or ESPN, when you’re trying to find jobs? Did anything ever come back to bite you?
PS: It did not help. It was a pretty naive view of mine to hold, I always thought – when I was doing this for the Suns especially – if I continue to do my job and then also maybe add a little bit of content, if I bring some value to the team by writing about it, maybe that gives me a better chance to make the next (team). They might say, this guy might not be playing but at least he’s got interest and fans or whatever. That was decidedly not the case. Most of the time, the NBA and most professional sports are like a circus – they don’t want people to know what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s not really a world I want to live in. I can protest it all I want, it’s not going to change it. I, through my agent, got people saying, “Why does he have to write these things? Why doesn’t he want to shut up?”

I don’t want to paint myself as some anti-authority hero. It’s just that never made sense to me. Before I could put the breaks on it, it was already too late. I already had burned all those bridges. I’m sure, even European teams were a little more gun-shy. These things only make it more human and more relatable, but they did not agree with me.

Dime: So now you’re just splitting time, trying to find yourself, I guess?
PS: Yeah, trying to Ricky Williams or Dirk Nowitzki it; I’m thinking about moving to Australia for six months. No, but I’m working really hard on writing. This website takes up a lot of my time, and trying to figure out of there’s an audience for me. Yeah, there’s a lot of like, unraveling that’s going on. It’s just this weird relationship with basketball. Even though I was the first to say, “I don’t care that much, whatever,” I was the stereotypical gym rat, white kid from Kansas who devoted everything I had to being really good at basketball. My self-esteem was attached to that, and I’m figuring out how that is not healthy, and trying to kind of unwind from it a little bit.

What do you think? Do you agree with his opinion of Amar’e, Kobe, KG & Nash?

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @offensivelyfoul.

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