Kevin Durant issued a strong defence of Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee after a spat with Shaquille O’Neal.
After being featured in a parody video with O’Neal, McGee lashed out at O’Neal on Thursday on Twitter, seemingly tired of being made fun of in O’Neal’s “Shaqtin’ a Fool” bloopers segment.
O’Neal responded, threatening to fight McGee and calling him a “bum.” The two exchanged several more barbs in what became an ugly incident between a prominent voice in the NBA and a current player.
On Friday, Durant was asked about the exchange, first defending McGee and saying anyone would grow tired of O’Neal’s constant criticisms. Durant also took a shot at O’Neal becoming a police officer in 2015 (via Anthony Slater of the Mercury News):
“JaVale works extremely hard, has come in here and done extremely well as a player. He only wants to be respected like anybody else. I understand that Shaq works for a company that wants him to do that type of stuff, make fun of players. It’s cool, it’s funny, but when you keep doing it time and time and time again and a guy actually disagrees with you and you threaten him. I didn’t know cops could threaten civilians like that. It’s definitely childish. But that’s what they want from these stars and these retired players is to feud with the guy who’s playing now and make arguments and disagreements. If I was JaVale, I’d feel the same way. It’s childish.”
Durant continued, taking a few shots at O’Neal’s playing career, some of which were not all that accurate (particularly the claims about O’Neal only being physically dominant):
“Shaq wants to make a joke about it. But if it was him in that position, he’d feel the same way. We wouldn’t call him a bum and all this because he’s such a great player obviously. But still, everybody can’t be Shaq. [McGee’s] trying to make his money and enjoy the game of basketball and the perception of him now is that he’s a dumb player because he makes mistakes out there on the court.
“Shaq was a sh**** free throw shooter, he missed dunks, he airballed free throws, he couldn’t shoot outside the paint. He was bigger than everyone, didn’t have no skill, bigger and stronger than everyone. Still a great player, but you had your flaws as a player and you played on five or six teams, too. So it’s not like he’s just some perfect center. You had your flaws, too. I didn’t know cops could go on Twitter and threaten civilians like that. I’m glad JaVale challenged him.”
According to Slater, Warriors coach Steve Kerr also defended McGee, saying, “JaVale has been fantastic for us as a player, as a teammate, fantastic guy. He’s funny, he’s fun to be around, he does his job. He’s a total pro. I don’t blame him for being frustrated. Shaq has been picking on him for years and years and years and JaVale, rightfully so, is frustrated.”
Kerr added, “It’s one thing to have a little fun. But I think he can go a little over the top.”
It will be interesting to see whether the NBA steps in here, in some fashion. In January, LeBron James blasted Charles Barkley, O’Neal’s TNT colleague, for continuous criticism throughout his career, igniting a mini-feud. Now, another prominent NBA voice is threatening a player on the NBA’s best team.