Among myriad sentences I never imagine reading or writing in 2020: Charles Oakley is joining Season 29 of “Dancing With the Stars,” Good Morning America announced Wednesday.
Joining Oak on the cast? Nelly, former NFL player Vernon Davis and, perhaps most eye-poppingly, Carole Baskin, who was popularized in the hit 2020 Netflix docuseries “Tiger King.” Find the full list here.
“It’s been a nightmare since ‘Tiger King’ aired,” Baskin said on the Good Morning America broadcast, adding that she hopes appearing on the “Dancing With the Stars” will help turn her negative public perception. “The biggest thing for me is the longer that my partner and I can stay in the running and in the competition, it will keep the cats forefront in the viewer’s eye. And to me that was where ‘Tiger King’ missed the ball.”
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Nelly said on GMA. “I’m a Scorpio. I feel like I can do anything. So this will be my biggest test yet.”
While Oakley didn’t grace the program for a Zoom interview, it’ll be interesting to watch him compete. Will his tough-minded identity as a player and brash leadership style translate to the ballroom? That remains to be seen.
But Bulls fans will know who to root for. Oakley spent the first three years of his decorated 19-season career in Chicago, averaging 12.2 points and 11.6 rebounds across 241 games. The decision to ship him to the New York Knicks in a 1988 trade that netted Bill Cartwright, while unpopular at the time, is now widely lauded as one of the most savvy of general manager Jerry Krause’s Bulls tenure. Cartwright started at center for the first three-peat Bulls teams, while Oakley became a face of the hard-nosed 1990s Knicks.
Oakley returned to the Bulls for another stint late in his career, and in the thick of the post-dynasty lull, in 2001-02. He ended his playing days a one-time All-Star and two-time All-Defense honoree.
Now, he and a smorgasbord of notorious names will try their hands at dance. For those eager to mark their calendars, the season debuts Sept. 14.