Shaquille O’Neal has developed the habit as an analyst of finding a player and targeting them repeatedly as he sees fit. First, with Dwight Howard, it was because Howard... used... his nickname? Then, JaVale McGee became a favorite subject of “Shaqtin’ A Fool.” When McGee took issue with it, O’Neal only furthered the schtick.
Now, both McGee and Howard are teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers, and apparently their shared experience as the butt of O’Neal’s jokes brought them closer.
Howard hopped on “The Green Room,” Danny Green’s podcast with co-host Harrison Sanford, and recalled the moment he and Howard came to this understanding:
Sanford: Dwight, you said you and JaVale talked about Shaq...
Howard: “We did. I asked him, I was like ‘hey, did you want to fight Shaq?’ He was like ‘man I did, man!’ I was like ‘man I did too,’ but I was like ‘there’s two things we’ve got to worry about. He’s a cop, so if we hurt him we’re going to jail. And two, if Shaq gets ahold of us, it’s over with... You’ve got to hit him and move, because if not? If Shaq gets you? It’s over with.’ (laughs)
“We talked about that, we laughed about a good 30 minutes, just talking about Shaq and all the things he said about us. But you know what it kind of did? It kind of kept us grounded, but it also made us realize, all right... Every night we step in the gym, on the court, whatever we’re doing, let’s go 110% because we don’t want somebody like this, or anybody ever questioning who we are as basketball players and men.”
Here’s video of the exchange, which you can catch in full on Spectrum Sportsnet tonight:
Season 2 of @GreenRoomInside premiers tonight at 9:30 PM on Spectrum Sportsnet (@SpectrumSN ) Catch new @lakers @DGreen_14 and co-host @HarrisonSanford as they sit down with former DPOY, @DwightHoward— Inside The Green Room (@GreenRoomInside) November 12, 2019
Soon: info on where you can watch/listen to the full episode. pic.twitter.com/433yDez05o
In fairness to O’Neal, he’s backed off on both Howard and McGee. At one point this season, he even sent out a message of support for Howard’s attempt to rebuild a relationship with the Lakers fan base through his play.
It’s also pretty cool to see both Howard and McGee use what was probably a pretty annoying, if not outright taxing experience to better themselves. As a result of their introspection and hard work, Howard has been a revelation and even McGee has picked it up as of late.
Both are hoping to be vital parts of a championship team and, once everyone’s playing careers are over, maybe one or both can get a crack at Shaq... or see if their strategy of taking him on would pay dividends.