Paying attention to NBA stats and standings this season? To put it mildly, the Phoenix Suns – a team our man Shaq played for in the 2008 season – are not playing up to expectations. On a recent podcast episode, O’Neal let his thoughts be known.
Of course Shaq is never shy about speaking his mind, especially in the sports world. On the latest episode of “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” O’Neal called the Suns “soft.” The label came not long after the big man heard rumors that Suns player Jusuf Nurkić was considering pressing charges against Draymond Green following their on-court altercation last month.
On the show, Shaq opened up: “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I want to address it. Jusuf Nurkić … is talking about pressing charges against Draymond Green. Now I have a problem with that. Because one, it just shows how soft you are as a big man. You’re going to ruin what I created in the big man alliance.”
O’Neal didn’t pull any punches. Does he ever? “The reason why Draymond hit you sir, is because he knows you’re not going to hit him back. So for you to say, even think about saying you are pressing charges, you’re soft. This is something I would tell you to your face if I saw you. You can’t press charges, you just gotta get your big a– up and hit somebody back. How about that? With your big soft a–?”
Officially, Nurkić has denied the ‘pressing charges’ rumor. On social media, the Suns center said this: “Lmao first i never said that! People be making s— up lol. Shaqilović I’m not from here, I’m not losing money and nobody fighting in this NBA.” Obviously, he was referring to the idea of getting a big-money fine if he’s physically gone after Green.
Shaq isn’t the only commentator – and former Suns player – going after their old team. On a couple of recent TV appearances, including Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley has talked about the teams he’s “lost belief” in. One of them is his former Suns. “The Lakers have been a huge disappointment, my Suns have been a huge disappointment.” He added, “You know I don’t believe in Minnesota.”
As for the Suns, they’re currently mired at the number 8 slot in the west. Also near the bottom of the barrel, at least in the west, are the Los Angeles Lakers, another of Shaq’s former teams (his most famous, of course). The Lakers are 2-8 in their last 10 games. If the playoffs started today, the Suns would host the Lakers in the play-in tournament to stay alive for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
Soft or not, the Suns – and the Lakers – have got a lot of work to do to make sure they’ll even have a playoff tournament appearance at the end of the regular season. Of course there’s still a ton of the regular season left. We’ll see how it shakes out as springtime approaches.