Shaq has a lot on his plate.
He’s a serial pitchman for damn near every product or service on planet Earth, a devoted father of six, an honorary U.S. Deputy Marshal, a rapper and part-time DJ, and whatever the hell else he’s done to amass a reported $400 million net worth. But while he excels at each of the above, one thing he’s fucking awful at is being an NBA analyst.
Part of Shaq’s problem is that he’s too preoccupied with kissing his own ass and revising his own legacy than actually providing any insightful analysis. (If you let Shaq tell it, he always played hard, never played out of shape, and carried Kobe to three NBA titles.) He also makes it a point to be a complete dick for no reason whatsoever to today’s superstars—because apparently offering guidance and mentorship instead would imperil his status as an all-time great.
“Mitch, I said earlier tonight that you are one of my favorite players,” he began while speaking to Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell during an episode of NBA on TNT. “But you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level. I said it on purpose because I wanted you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?”
You said that on purpose? Who does that?
There’s also the time he mistook Nikola Jokic for Russian and got dismissed as a “casual” because he didn’t know Christain Wood’s name even though he was interviewing him. More established veterans like Kevin Durant and LeBron James have called out Shaq for his goofy ass shtick. But if you let the four-time NBA champ tell it, he’s merely
being an asshole providing the same tough love that pushed him to become one of the greatest centers in NBA history.
“I’m just doing what was done to me,” O’Neal said during a recent appearance on The Dan Patrick Show. “I can remember when I was averaging 30, 35 [points per game] in L.A., but we were always getting swept. And the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, ‘Hey you guys haven’t won a championship yet.’ Did I whine? Did I cry? Did I complain on social media? Nope, I didn’t say anything, because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a chief-14 classification to say that. What am I gonna do? Have a dispute with the greatest NBA player ever? So when he said that, when he gave me constructive criticism, I took it, and I listened, and I brought my game to another level. So these guys now, they’re pudding pops.”
But therein lies the problem: Shaq doesn’t provide constructive criticism. He demeans the players who look up to him for a living. And the shit is lame as hell.
And again, he’s a terrible NBA analyst.
Take for instance Tuesday night’s episode of Inside the NBA, where co-host Candace Parker had the misfortune of once again having to explain exactly why Shaq doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. (Something she does far more often on the show than she should have to.)
During what can best be described as “unapologetic foolishness,” Parker tried to explain why it’s virtually impossible to defend Nikola Jokic in today’s NBA, but Shaq was too busy bloviating about his championship rings and days of yore to even notice.
Parker: “The NBA switches now.”
Parker: “..........Because everybody can shoot threes.”
Shaq: “Whatever happened to manning up?”
Parker: “You’re gonna be ‘manning up’ trying to recover back to your man and they’re gonna hit a three just like Jokic did.”
If I didn’t see this happen in real-time with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed this exchange happened either. But no really, watch this shit:
I completely understand that Shaq comes from a prehistoric era where cars used boiling water as fuel, but the NBA has come a long-ass way from Rik Smits taking a grand total of 26 three-point attempts during his entire career. The game has evolved, sir; and frankly, I don’t understand why TNT still cuts you a check when it’s abundantly clear that not only are you a bitter hater when you don’t have to be, but you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
This is probably why I watch ESPN’s The Jump every day instead.
The most discouraging thing about all of this is that Shaq doesn’t have to be the villain—or the village idiot. There are plenty of his retired peers who make it a point to show love to this current generation of NBA superstars. Hell, many of them even serve as mentors and make it their civic duty to impart their knowledge on players throughout the league. The last time I checked, that’s what an OG is supposed to do.
But since Shaq would much rather be wrong and strong, he’s despised by the same players he should be pushing to surpass his accomplishments.