Are Hakeem and Tiana from ‘Empire’ Based on NBA Star Iman Shumpert and Teyana Taylor?

Part of the fun of watching Empire is trying to figure out who each fictional character is based on. Puff Daddy or Jay Z seem like plausible inspiration for a high-powered music exec like Lucious Lyon, but was NBA player Iman Shumpert really who the writers looked to when they created Hakeem Lyon? The Cavaliers star seems to think so.

Shumpert, a black guy with a flat-top haircut who’s dating a R&B singer named Teyana (Taylor), feels the character Hakeem, a black guy with a flat-top who was dating a R&B singer named Tiana, is eerily similar to himself. And the fact that FOX has failed to acknowledge these similarities pisses him off. “They’re using my girl’s character, her style, her look and she’s not getting anything for it. They didn’t even change her name,” Shumpert told Cleveland.com. “They could have at least let my girl audition for the part instead of stealing her character completely.” But it doesn’t stop there! “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.”

Let’s not forget that Shumpert is a professional athlete and Hakeem is a musician (who would only be able to dunk if he was propped up by a thick pile of his dad’s cash). Should he really be this upset? Did Mariah Carey call Lee Daniels when Courtney Love played a messy diva? Is Frank Ocean upset that Jamal is a R&B singer who’s open about his homosexuality? Of course, if Joseline Hernandez can say she was the inspiration for Cookie, anything is possible.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images, FOX]