Commentary

Rick Fox, Kurt Warner in 'DWTS'

Originally Published: September 20, 2010
By Lynn Hoppes and Alex Prewitt | Page 2

Rick FoxABC/Greg ZabilskiRick Fox works out with two-time champion Cheryl Burke for "Dancing with the Stars".

Retired NBA player Rick Fox thinks it's not fair that people expect him to do well in the 11th season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," which begins Monday night.

Yes, athletes have done well in the past. NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves and Olympic gold medalists Apolo Anton Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson all have won.

But Fox would prefer to be compared to the other athlete -- future NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner -- in this fall's edition of the top-five-rated show.

"All the pressure should be on Kurt. The football players have represented themselves well on this show," said Fox, who has been acting since retiring from the NBA in 2004. "But basketball? Come on. Did you see Clyde Drexler dance in 2007? Ugh."

The real favorites will be Jennifer Grey, who rose to fame starring in "Dirty Dancing," and singer Brandy, who has done a lot of dancing in her music videos.

Brandy is downplaying being considered one of the favorites.

"Dancing is never one of my strongest points. I'm pigeon-toed naturally," she said. "My posture is off. I'm really nervous. All this stuff is new to me."

Fox laughed at Brandy, saying: "I'm the one pigeon-toed. You should be voting for me. I have one week to prove to the world I can dance. Help me!"

Here's a look at this fall's competitors:

Michael Bolton: The love-song guru of the 1990s didn't do much dancing in his music videos, save some tame back-and-forth swaying. Bolton, 57, will be dancing with Chelsie Hightower, the 21-year-old who, through three seasons on the show, has never danced with a top-three competitor.

Brandy: Early reports out of the "DWTS" camp indicate that the singer-actress is one of the favorites; her athletic build and competitive persona back that up. Partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy has a history of dealing well with fierce types, and he most recently helped ESPN's Erin Andrews to a third-place finish in Season 10.

[+] EnlargeKurt Warner
ABC/Greg ZabilskiKurt Warner practices with Anna Trebunskaya in preparation for "Dancing with the Stars."

Margaret Cho: The burlesque-dancing comedian will be paired with Louis van Amstel, who opened his "DWTS" career with a last-place finish but has since rebounded, most recently dancing with third-place Kelly Osbourne in the ninth season.

Jennifer Grey: The odds-on favorite to take the mirror-ball trophy, Grey's experience in "Dirty Dancing" should carry her far in the competition. The fact that she's dancing with Derek Hough -- who has danced with two winners (Brooke Burke in Season 7 and Nicole Scherzinger in Season 10) in his five stints on the show -- shouldn't hurt.

Rick Fox: Partner Cheryl Burke has routinely been paired with sports stars, including dancing with Season 3 winner Emmitt Smith and Chad Ochocinco in Season 10, and the agile Fox has the body type to excel -- much like winners Shawn Johnson (Season 8), Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6) and Apolo Anton Ohno (Season 4) did.

David Hasselhoff: Hasselhoff is still enjoying the fame bump from his Comedy Central roast and is paired with Kym Johnson, who has a history of succeeding with former television icons, including a victory with Donny Osmond in Season 9 and a Season 3 stint with Jerry Springer.

Florence Henderson: For the 76-year-old Henderson, the oldest contestant this season, only Corky Ballas, who danced with the 84-year-old Cloris Leachman in Season 7, will do.

Kyle Massey: On the other end of the age spectrum is Massey, who at 19 is this season's youngest competitor. The Disney Channel child star will dance with Lacey Schwimmer, the 22-year-old spark plug who danced with Season 7 bronze medalist Lance Bass.

Bristol Palin: Palin's partner, Mark Ballas, is a two-time champion on "DWTS" and has a history of success with younger dancers. Chmerkovskiy, however, recently said in an interview with E! Online that Palin was "a little nervous" and "a little bit out of place."

Audrina Patridge: Tony Dovolani has been pigeonholed as the resident reality-star partner on the show; he just completed a Season 10 stint with Kate Gosselin and has Melissa Rycroft on his résumé.

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino: Speaking of reality stars, The Situation will be dancing with Karina Smirnoff, the Ukranian beauty who has finished in the top three only once in seven seasons.

Kurt Warner: The former Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP was never the most agile quarterback -- he finished his 12-year career with only 286 rushing yards -- but he'll have to move in order to keep up with Anna Trebunskaya, who finished in third place with Jerry Rice and Evan Lysacek.

The action begins Monday night, and Fox has a plan if he trips or falls.

"Wait, what do you mean the show is live? We don't do retakes?" Fox asked. "Well, I'm going to treat it like a basketball game. I'll just blame someone else."

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Alex Prewitt

ESPN Playbook
Alex Prewitt is a contributor to ESPN Playbook.