Kevin Durant comes to the defense of JaVale McGee in Shaq beef

Feb 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kevin Durant during the All Star media availability at the Ritz Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kevin Durant during the All Star media availability at the Ritz Carlton. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant defended teammate JaVale McGee after the center got into a Twitter beef with Shaquille O’Neal.

Kevin Durant has got his teammates’ back on and off the court. He spoke to media about JaVale McGee’s beef with TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal. The two of them went back-and-forth on Twitter following the Golden State Warriors’ win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

O’Neal has used McGee and his bloopers to elevate his segment on TNT’s Inside the NBA. Without JaVale, there is no “Shaqtin’ a Fool.” He constantly puts down the Warriors’ center for laughs.

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It’s funny, to a certain point O’Neal has become fixated on McGee and nitpicks the tiniest things that he does. Blunders like trying to inbound the basketball after a teammates free throw are fun. Missed dunks happen to everyone yet O’Neal loves to highlight McGee’s.

After the Dubs’ 10th straight beatdown of the Clippers, the hooper-turned-analyst showed a parody of Doctor Strange centered around McGee’s career lowlights. Golden State’s big man wasn’t too enthused and took to social media to express his frustrations.

The morning after, Durant defended his big man.

Warning: Some NSFW language

It’s clear Durant thought about it overnight. He gave a really loaded comment, striking a nice balance between thoughtful insight and roasting the Lakers’ legend.

To paraphrase, Durant seemed understand that O’Neal has a job to do, but pointed out that McGee does as well. Shaq’s constant ridiculing impedes what the center is trying to do in the NBA right now. The segment has given McGee a reputation of being a dumb individual and it can negatively impact his career.

Durant threw several punches at O’Neal. He brought up one of Shaq’s many non-basketball ventures: law enforcement. He admitted that “I didn’t know cops could threaten civilians like that” in response to O’Neal’s tweet in which he said he’d smack McGee. KD reiterated that point later saying that “I didn’t know cops could go on Twitter and threaten civilians like that.”

He described O’Neal’s obsession with McGee as “childish.” He then pointed out Shaq’s hypocrisy:

"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*tty 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 fix or six teams too. So it’s not like he’s just some perfect center. You had your flaws too."

This part of Durant’s comment has raised a lot of eyebrows. Calling out one of the most dominant players of all-time on his lack of skill is head turning. Though the idea isn’t all that far-fetched.

O’Neal was dominant, largely because of his size. He was too big for anyone to handle. In his younger days, particularly in Orlando, he flashed some skill and quickness. As his career went on, he won his championships just overpowering players.

He didn’t have post moves like a Hakeem Olajuwon. He didn’t have a shot like Dirk Nowitzki. He didn’t have touch like Tim Duncan.

Regardless of how you feel about O’Neal’s place in history and the skill vs. physical imposition, his role as an analyst is the focus. To start off, he’s not very good at that job. He just assumes everyone big man (especially against Golden State) should be able to take the ball into the post and bully their way to a bucket. That’s not how the game is played anymore and, like Durant said, not everyone can be Shaq.

He’s constantly bullied McGee with no response from the center. Even when McGee suggested that he didn’t like the segment, O’Neal continued to do it. He finally drew a line and decided to stand up for himself.

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Somehow, after years of being subjected to ridicule and character assassination, McGee is the bad guy here for many. As the Warriors’ center, he’s been really good. Yet casual fans wouldn’t know that because “Shaqtin’ a Fool” won’t allow for McGee to prosper.

O’Neal has done a lot of damage to JaVale McGee’s reputation. He’s now standing up for himself and his team, led by Durant, is helping him.