How JaVale McGee's Terrible Haircut Got Shaq Compared to a Minstrel Act

JaVale McGee of the Golden State Warriors  during a preseason game Oct. 15, 2016, in Las Vegas  
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
JaVale McGee of the Golden State Warriors during a preseason game Oct. 15, 2016, in Las Vegas
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

At this point, Golden State Warriors reserve center JaVale McGee doesn't find it funny. In fact, McGee believes that the jokes about him stopped being funny long ago. Sure, McGee seems spaced out a lot of the time. You can see a montage of McVale's greatest moments below:

But he's tired of being the butt of Shaquille O'Neal's jokes. Although he plays limited minutes, McGee seems to be a staple on Shaq's blooper bit, Shaqtin' a Fool, which pokes fun at all the mistakes NBA players make throughout the week. As Yahoo! Sports notes, McGee is the only two-time MVP featured on the show.

He's said that the highlighting of his mistakes is ruining his career, and told the Mercury News in October 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."

So, recently, Shaq offered McGee an out: He told the human highlight reel (and not in a good way) that if he could play three blooper-free games, he'd stop poking fun at him for the next five episodes.


But McGee had to know that people—and by “people” I mean Shaq—were going to come for him after he posted this:

Yep, McGee thought he was going to post a photo of himself with a highway lane in the back of his head and not get clowned.

Shortly after McGee posted a photo of his "rattail," Shaq posted this:


McGee's response hit below the belt as he posted a photo of Shaq and acting legend Bert Williams, both dressed in chicken outfits:


McGee called Shaq's show, Shaqtin' a Fool, "Shaqtin' a Coon" during a 2013 awkward interview while he was playing for the Denver Nuggets. In the segment, McGee also compared the relationship between himself and Shaq to that between a victim and a bully.

McGee has walked this line before, and while I know Shaq's jabs can be annoying, I think it was uncalled for for McGee to equate Shaq to a minstrel-show act, and more insulting to Bert Williams' legacy. As Phillip Barnett eloquently wrote for Dime Magazine:

Williams was a pioneer who died at a young age because of the stress and depression that came with paving the way for those who would come later.

In some ways, O’Neal paved the way for McGee. Not just as a basketball player, but as a fun loving, free spirited human in what can sometimes be a dour NBA. While O’Neal isn’t blameless here (it’s frustrating watching those outside of the culture take shots at black hair, and O’Neal certainly aided this in a public space), but the idea that you can take someone like Williams, and turn his career into a negative mark in the history of black men and women working to make things better for the next generation is the wrong way to get back at O’Neal.


Shaq responded to McGee by telling him not to get his pants all twisted because of a few jokes:

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