Monday night, former New York Knicks star Charles Oakley made his Dancing With the Stars debut on the Season 29 premiere. He partnered with Emma Slater and showed off his salsa skills for the judges. He did so while 50 Cent's "In Da Club" served as the soundtrack.
The routine started with Oakley standing by himself in front of massive Chess pieces. Slater joined him, and then they sauntered down the steps onto the main dance floor. They continued to showcase their salsa routine while 50 Cent rapped, creating mixed reactions overall. Some viewers at home expressed excitement about the dance while others said that the song didn't fit well with the movement style and called for something with "more energy."
Following the routine, the judges in Derek Hough, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba provided their constructive criticism. Hough said that the former NBA player was a bit "flat-footed" during the routine while Inaba told Oakley that he was "ahead of the music the whole time, which happens when you're nervous." Ultimately, the trio awarded Oakley and Slater a 12 out of 30, one of the lower scores of the evening.
One moment during this routine did not spark comments from the judges, but it certainly caught the attention of Twitter users. Near the end of the dance, Slater spun around Oakley multiple times and accidentally smacked him in the face. This hit caused him to stop smiling for a brief moment and prompted several comments on social media. One potential reason for the hit is that there is a considerable size difference between the dance partners. Oakley is 6-foot-8-inches tall while Slater is only 5-foot-5-inches.
While Oakley didn't perform among the best during his debut, the fans still called for him to continue in the competition. They said he was "extremely adorable" during the routine and said they were rooting for him. "Charles Oakley is such a precious gem of a man omg," one person commented.
The former NBA player will have another opportunity to show off his skills on the dance floor during the second episode of Dancing With the Stars. The fans will have the chance to vote for Oakley during the second episode, which will feature the first elimination of the season. The scores from the first two weeks will combine and then partner with the fan votes to determine which celebrity is leaving.