O’Neal’s regular taunting of McGee on TNT’s popular “Inside the NBA” program is “doing unnecessary damage to McGee’s reputation,” the Warriors told Turner Sports, according to ESPN’s reports. The language of the request echoes the same sentiment shared by Coach Steve Kerr earlier on Friday.
“You think about JaVale’s career. When you’re in this position, where somebody on national TV is making fun of you night after night after night, it’s not the greatest thing for your reputation,” Kerr said (via ESPN). “I can tell you I had a preconceived notion of JaVale before he got here that turned out to be totally false. And a lot of that was because of what goes on with Shaq’s ‘Shaqtin’ a Fool.'”
Kerr added: “JaVale has been fantastic for us, as a player, a teammate, fantastic guy. He’s funny, he’s fun to be around, he does his job. He’s a total pro.”
Turner confirmed to ESPN, meanwhile, that “the matter has been discussed internally.”
McGee has frequently been featured in O’Neal’s weekly segment, which highlights the league’s most boneheaded plays dating from the time in 2012 when the former Wizards center ran back on defense while his team still had the ball.
On Thursday’s edition of “Inside the NBA,” O’Neal said he’d lay off McGee, who is averaging 6.1 points and three rebounds for the Warriors, “starting next week.” But first, he showcased some of McGee’s worst Shaqtin’-worthy gaffes through the years in a lengthy “Doctor Strange” parody.
McGee did not find the parody nearly as humorous as O’Neal’s TNT co-hosts, Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley, and fired off a series of angry tweets in response.
O’Neal replied in kind, telling the 29-year-old McGee he will only be remembered for Shaqtin’ a Fool and repeatedly labeling him a #bum[butt].”
McGee, who has appeared in 15 playoff games in his nine-year career, wasn’t about to let those insults slide.
O’Neal thought he had the last word …
But then Kevin Durant chimed in with his two cents, squarely taking McGee’s side.
“Shaq was a [crappy] free throw shooter, he missed dunks. He airballed free throws. He couldn’t shoot outside the paint,” the Warriors star said Friday. “He was bigger than everybody, he didn’t have any skills. But he was bigger and stronger than everybody, and he’s still a great player, but you had your flaws too as a player. … And you played on five or six teams, too, as a player. So it’s not like you were like this perfect center. you had your flaws, too.”
While that may have seemingly come out of nowhere, McGee’s frustration with being O’Neal’s personal punching bag has been boiling for some time.
“Fans think it’s real, like that’s real life and they think I’m a dumb person,” McGee told the Mercury News in October. “It’s just really disappointing that grown men, 50, 40 year olds are having America’s Funniest Home Videos of a player. And then making it a hashtag and really just trying to ruin someone’s career over basketball mistakes.”
Things escalated again last month when O’Neal made fun of McGee’s haircut and McGee responded by comparing O’Neal to a minstrel.