THE Golden State Warriors have come to the defense of their center JaVale McGee who has found himself embroiled in a feud with Hall of Famer and basketball analyst Shaquille O’Neal.
Warriors teammate Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr rose to defend McGee who lashed out at the Hall of Famer for making McGee the butt of jokes in his popular “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segment in “Inside the NBA.”
"He works extremely hard," Durant told reporters after Friday’s practice. "He's come in here and done so much for us as a player, He only wants to be respected, just like anybody else.
"I understand that Shaq works for a company that wants him to do that type of stuff and make fun of players ... but when you just keep doing it time and time and time again, for no reason, and the guy actually disagrees with you and you threaten him ... I didn't know cops could threaten civilians like that."
Durant made the reference to O'Neal's status as a reserve police officer in South Florida.
The word war between O’Neal and McGee escalated on Thursday (Friday, Manila time) with both men directing threats against each other on Twitter.
"It's definitely childish," Durant said. "But that's what they want from these stars and these retired players ... to feud with the guys playing now. If I was JaVale, I'd feel the same way. It's childish."
Kerr also supported his back-up center, "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.
"I don't blame him for being frustrated. Shaq's been picking on him for years and years and years. I think JaVale, and rightfully so, I feel like he's frustrated. It's like, 'It never ends.' It's one thing to just have a little fun, but I think you can go a little bit over the top."
Kerr acknowledged that O’Neal’s treatment of an NBA player as a laughingstock in a blooper reel has a negative impact.
"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.'"
ESPN reported that Golden State has discussed the matter with Turner Sports regarding their coverage of McGee.
Sources confirmed the the Warriors and the network discussed the matter internally after the feud went viral.
McGee's propensity for oncourt errors has long been chronicled when he was the Wizards, Nuggets, 76ers, Mavericks and now Warriors. They have been a staple in O’Neal’s weekly segment but when the network showed McGee in a "Doctor Strange"-inspired piece that focused on him, the Warriors center had enough and engaged O’Neal in a nasty exchange on social media.
Durant also mocked O’Neal who also had notable holes in his NBA career.
"Shaq was a s---ty free throw shooter. He missed dunks. He airballed free throws. He couldn't shoot outside the paint," Durant said. "He's bigger than everybody. He didn't have any skill, 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 he played on five or six teams too, so it's not like he was just like this perfect center. You had your flaws, too."