OAKLAND -- Though JaVale McGee avoided direct discussion of his feud with retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, the Warriors center expressed his appreciation for coaches and teammates coming to his defense.
“My teammates are my brothers, and (coach) Steve Kerr is also,” McGee said after shootaround Saturday morning. “It’s a great organization and I appreciate everything they do for me. That’s why I go out there and work as hard as I can when I’m on the floor. And I know everyone sees that. They see me running up and down the floor, working as hard as I can, and in the gym every day. I’m just doing my thing and trying to be a positive person.”
O’Neal’s constant ridicule of McGee reached a low point Thursday night, when the TNT analyst unveiled a video that showed various gaffes and slights to McGee’s intellect. McGee, who has held his tongue for years despite being targeted, fired back on Twitter.
Both men exchanged several insults and it reached a point Friday where by Kevin Durant and Kerr felt compelled to defend McGee.
Kerr even acknowledged that he harbored a few preconceived notions about McGee, based on O’Neal’s yearslong derision of the 7-footer. Those notions, Kerr said, turned out to be false.
McGee said he enjoys it when people take the time to engage him in conversation and come away realizing he is not a dolt, despite O’Neal frequently implying otherwise.
“I love it when people meet me,” McGee said, “and then they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re actually smart.’ It’s kind of rude, but I’ll take it.”
One of McGee’s teammates knows a thing or two about false impressions. Even after a strong collegiate career, Draymond Green had to overcome doubts that he was worthy of being in the NBA.
So it is no surprise that, to some degree, he understands how McGee feels.
“He’s standing up for himself,” Green said. “A lot has transpired over the course of the past four years with it. And he was just at a boiling point.”