ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I know the NBA’s in the midst of the playoff race with important games on every night, but the world goes on even without the NBA. Which brings us to “Empire,” the new drama on FOX about a family in the music business that is breaking viewing records week after week after week.
I haven’t had a chance to watch the show, but apparently there is a character named Hakeem who is rather similar to Cleveland guard Iman Shumpert. Chris Haynes, from the Northeast Ohio Media Group, picks up the trail from there…
Hakeem is a rap artist and son of Empire CEO Lucious Lyon, played by Cleveland native Terrence Howard. Hakeem has the mannerisms, as well as the look and, strangely, the sound of Shumpert.
He’s even rocking Shumpert’s patented high-top fade hairstyle. And it turns out that Shumpert raps too.
“I don’t watch that stuff, man,” Shumpert told Northeast Ohio Media Group with an annoyed expression on his face.
“They’re using my girl’s character, her style, her look and she’s not getting anything for it,” Shumpert said of Teyana Taylor, a real-life R&B singer, dancer and actress who is Shumpert’s girlfriend. “They didn’t even change her name. They could have at least let my girl audition for the part instead of stealing her character completely.
“And come on man, they’re really using a guy with a flat-top like me. Come on. That’s ridiculous. They never called us. We were blindsided. We found out by our family and fans when the show aired.”
In the series, Hakeem has a girlfriend named Tiana, (played by Seraya McNeill) an R&B singer and dancer who is signed to the record label. The fictional character has an eerily similar persona to Taylor.
Aside from having a first name similar to Taylor’s, Tiana has an identical hairstyle. Taylor’s signature appearance is wearing her hair in a puffed out, curly form. It’s hard not to see the similarities.
Hakeem is dating Tiana in the show.
Calls to the show’s producers at FOX Studios in Los Angeles were not returned.
Shumpert, a defensive specialist, is coming off of a game where he tied his career-high of six steals in a 127-94 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. So he feels he has a pretty good idea of what stealing looks like.
“I don’t see how they can deny it,” he said. “Everybody knows.”
Whether the accusations are true or not, it’s certainly worth discussing. Shumpert insists that they aren’t upset with how things have transpired, just a little suspicious.
“Her fans are more mad about it than I am,” Shumpert said. “I’m a ball player, but that’s her field. That’s what she does. Me personally, I don’t plan on taking any action but I don’t know about her.”