The first fashion statement of the 2017 NBA Finals has been made by — you guessed it — JaVale McGee.
— NBCS Warriors News (@NBCSWarriors) June 1, 2017
The Golden State Warriors center showed up for Thursday night’s Game 1 — the Warriors’ third straight championship-round meeting with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the first Finals game of McGee’s career — wearing a hat bearing the name and logo of one Shaquille O’Neal. Sure, the colors are neat and it’s a nice little look for Throwback Thursday … but that’s not what makes it notable.
As you might remember, McGee has made it clear that he’s not a fan of how Shaq has used his “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segment on TNT’s NBA coverage as a platform for repeatedly making fun of JaVale’s blooper-reel miscues as a young player with the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets. He told Anthony Slater of the Bay Area News Group this summer that “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.”
O’Neal briefly offered McGee — who has done good work this season to rehabilitate his image and resuscitate his career playing as a reserve big man for the Western Conference champion Warriors — an exemption from appearing on “Shaqtin’ a Fool” if he could go three straight games without making the kind of glaring mistake that has landed him on the countdown in the past. O’Neal instead continued to clown on McGee, even as JaVale kept grinding away in Golden State. McGee clapped back, comparing O’Neal to a minstrel via social media.
One month later, O’Neal reignited the feud by using his segment to air a parody of a movie trailer for a version of “Doctor Strange” featuring the ever enigmatic McGee. The Warriors center caught wind of the goof and once again took to Twitter to air his grievances, resulting in a 140-character back-and-forth that included O’Neal threatening to “smack the s***” out of McGee.
The Warriors escalated the matter by reaching out to Turner Sports — the parent company of TNT, which airs “Inside the NBA” and “Shaqtin’ a Fool” — to express their displeasure at O’Neal’s coverage of McGee, and Golden State coach Steve Kerr and star Kevin Durant both took up for their teammate in his squabble with Shaq.
Shortly thereafter, O’Neal told Mike Wise of The Undefeated that he was dropping his beef with McGee after his mother — Shaq’s, not JaVale’s — told him to:
“I have orders from the top to leave it alone,” O’Neal said past midnight on Saturday.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver?
“No,” O’Neal said. “My mama. Just say Shaq’s mom called him, told him, ‘Stop this silliness. Leave him alone.’ So that’s the end of the beef. You won’t be hearing about it from my side anymore. Mama has spoken.”
Said Lucille O’Neal earlier Saturday evening from her Orlando, Florida, home, “It’s not funny anymore, seeing the things they’re saying to each other. They need to squash this and move on.”
JaVale’s mom, Pamela McGee, wasn’t so willing to let it all go — “He cyberbullied my son,” she told Wise, saying Shaq “needs to lose his job or be suspended” — but thus far, Shaq has kept to his word and kept JaVale’s name out of his mouth.
We’ll see if that changes now that JaVale has decided — after responding to the charges that he’s a bum by proving to be a valuable piece of a championship contender — to keep Shaq’s name on his head.
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