OAKLAND, Calif. — Just a day after JaVale McGee’s beef with Shaquille O’Neal — a feud intense enough to prompt Golden State to call O’Neal’s employers — the Warriors big man responded to O’Neal’s low blows by taking the high road.
“You know me, I’m Mr. Positive, smiling my way to the top,” McGee said at Golden State’s morning shootaround before Saturday night’s game against the Nets. “I’m just a positive person, and I just exude positivity. Everybody around me is happy when they’re around me. So I just love being me.”
The whole drama was one of the few negatives — along with Draymond Green’s continued on-court antics — of the Warriors’ season.
“Shaqtin’ a Fool,” the bloopers segment on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” always has made McGee’s gaffes regular fodder, but on Thursday, TNT aired an entire “Doctor Strange” segment targeting just McGee. It prompted the affable Golden State big man to get into a Twitter beef that night with O’Neal, who threatened to “smack the s–t out yo bum ass.”
The Warriors contacted Turner Sports, and his teammates and coaches defended him.
On Friday, coach Steve Kerr chastised O’Neal, and forward Kevin Durant (who missed Saturday’s game with a left hand injury) jumped into the fray, saying, “I don’t blame [McGee] for being frustrated. Shaq has been picking on him for years and years and years, and JaVale, rightfully so, is frustrated. It never ends.”
McGee twice tried to shift the subject to Saturday’s game against the Nets, but said he appreciated his Warriors teammates had his back.
“My teammates are my brothers, and Steve Kerr is also,” McGee said. “It’s a great organization, and I appreciate everything they do for me. That’s why I go out and work as hard as I can on the floor, and I know everybody sees that, me running up and down the floor, working as hard as I can. I’m just doing my thing, being a positive person, working hard.”
Green, who has been a lightning rod himself for years, also came to McGee’s defense at Saturday’s shootaround.
“I mean, I think he’s standing up for himself,” Green said. “At the end of the day, a lot of stuff has transpired over the course of the last three, four years, and I think he’s just at a boiling point It’s understandable. I understand where he’s coming from.”
Green’s high-profile antics, including those that led to a suspension during last year’s NBA Finals, have made him the targets of much outside criticism as well.
“I’ve been in a situation like that and I appreciated [my teammates having my back],” Green said. “I think he appreciates it to know someone had your back.”
Quincy Acy (sprained left ankle) and Caris LeVert (illness) sat out for the Nets. Warriors forward Kevin Durant (left hand contusion) missed his first game since signing with Golden State.
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