Actually, the reason the Dubs are all over the airwaves right now has to do with the reason Golden State did not feel the need to trade for a center. JaVale McGee has stepped into a productive role with the Warriors this season after nearly washing out of the NBA in previous years.
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McGee has always had the potential to be a good NBA player. His career averages per 36 minutes are strong — 15.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.2 blocks — but inconsistency has stopped McGee from getting much more than three consecutive years with a team in his career.
Momentary lapses in judgement have caused casual NBA fans to associate McGee more with Shaquille O’Neal‘s Shaqtin’ A Fool segment than anything else.
McGee, apparently, is quite sick of being the butt of Shaq’s many, many jokes. That much was made obvious after the pair of them had a bit of a spat on Twitter, which saw Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr back up JaVale and a lot of Cleveland Cavaliers fans back up Shaq.
Let’s establish a few things as true before we go any farther. Watching NBA player lowlights is funny. It’s impossible not to enjoy moments like “Here Comes Austin Rivers!”
McGee has had a lot of those moments, to be sure. Some of them are funny. But there’s a difference between laughing at a clip and spending six years of your life picking apart every single mistake a player makes.
Think about that. Shaq has been making fun of JaVale for more than half a decade. Now, finally, McGee decides to respond, and Shaq threatens to beat him up on Twitter over it.
It’s never a good look to threaten to fight someone on Twitter, especially when you’re 44 years old. McGee didn’t think so either, and added later on in their Twitter fingers battle that Shaq has been the one mentioning his name for all these years.
Forget being on a good team… Ima grown man… you’ve had these ????’s in yo mouth for 5-6 years now… u thought I was just gone stay silent? https://t.co/3gTpTgVgmU
First off, the peanut emoji will never be the same. Let’s just establish right now that this thing is in eggplant territory forever and move on.
Seriously though, JaVale kind of has a point. How much money has Shaq made off making fun of JaVale’s NBA mishaps over the years? On the same note, how much of a hit has McGee’s reputation taken from Shaq’s constant abuse?
The Warriors organization apparently believed the answer to both of those questions is a huge amount, as the franchise reached out to Turner Sports in an attempt to get Shaq to quiet down about McGee, according to ESPN.
That ESPN piece has an insightful quote from Steve Kerr that explains why Shaq’s trash talking is so damaging for JaVale.
“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. 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.'”
This isn’t some media figure taking unnecessary shots at LeBron James or McGee’s teammate Kevin Durant. That stuff should’ve really been left in 2016 too, but it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things. Everybody realizes how great those players are–hearing someone say they aren’t clutch isn’t going to make you think that LeBron or KD are “bums,” to use Shaq’s preferred terminology.
Seeing a role player’s worst moments over and over again could — and has — made lots of general NBA fans think JaVale is not a good player though. More than just fans are influenced by that narrative, as Kerr himself admitted to thinking less of JaVale because of Shaqtin’.
The truth is that McGee is having a great season with the Warriors. He’s averaging less than 10 minutes per game, but in that limited time has found ways to be impactful. JaVale’s per 36 minutes stats leap off of the page, as he’s averaging 22.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 while making 67.3 percent of his field goals.
You can’t assume a player will actually average those numbers if their minutes did increase, but still. Those aren’t bum numbers, and it’s pretty obvious McGee has a point about Shaq hurting his reputation. Were it any other team, NBA fans might be sympathetic to a franchise asking a media company to please not damage one of their player’s careers any further.
This is not any team though. It’s the Golden State Warriors, and just one night prior to JaVale and Shaq squaring off Draymond Green informed Paul Pierce that he isn’t getting a proper farewell tour because fans “don’t love you like that.”
It may seem hypocritical for the same franchise that encourages Draymond to be Draymond to ask someone else to stop talking trash, but there is a massive difference between some trash talk in-game and six years worth of televised mockery.
The targets matter, too. Paul Pierce may not be getting a farewell tour, but he will be getting a spot in the Hall of Fame eventually. Pierce is a certified NBA legend. JaVale McGee is not.
Also, Piece clapped back on one of his two phones later that night with a predictable, if still funny 3-1 joke.
73 wins and u thought u was gonna win a title that yr ????????????3-1 lead oops
“That’s just good banter,” Pierce said, laughing again. “That’s all it is. Just good back and forth banter. That’s all.”
Trash talk between players is fun. Draymond and Pierce are both adept at giving and taking verbal shots, they each sent a volley back and forth, and that was that.
If Draymond spent half a decade trying to convince the NBA community at large that Pierce was not deserving of a farewell tour and that he was overrated, that’d be a much different story.
That’s essentially what Shaq has done to JaVale McGee, and both McGee and the Warriors aren’t having it anymore.
Although Durant’s rant about Shaq not being skilled would not stand up to a fact-checker, it’s pretty safe to say JaVale is beating Shaq in the Twitter battle at the moment.
The use of the peanut emoji was revolutionary, JaVale correctly posited that Shaq has continued to have JaVale’s name in his mouth for years, and resorting to threatening the other person is pretty much an automatic L on the timeline.
It remains to be seen what the league and Turner will do, if anything, to stop Shaq from targeting McGee any further. The spotlight is now on both the Inside The NBA star and the Warriors now, and it feels like this story might get a few more chapters before all is said and done.