Shaquille O’Neal has never been shy about initiating various beefs with opponents, former coaches, or even current teammates. From Dwight Howard to Kobe Bryant to Chris Bosh and Brian Hill, Shaq has never shied away from calling out those that displeased him. Throughout all of this O’Neal has long looked petty in the process, as he’s usually the first to lash out.
This time, it’s different. This time it was Oklahoma City Thunder center (and former O’Neal teammate, for 12 games at least) Kendrick Perkins that went after Shaq. Or, “Shack.” We’re pretty sure it was Shaq.
Here’s Perkins’ tweet, sent out during TNT’s coverage of the thrilling double-header that saw the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat, and the San Antonio Spurs come back to top the Golden State Warriors:
Do Shack ever stop talking about himself. SMH
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) May 7, 2013
(And, yes, Perk later clarified that he was talking about Mr. O’Neal …
My bad Shaq — Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) May 7, 2013
… you’d think auto-correct would have been made wise to the exploits of “Shaq” by now.)
Shaquille O’Neal typically needs no excuses to dive into a contentious back and forth, so he took the first chance he could get on Tuesday night, diving into the OKC center after a disappointing performance on both ends of the floor. Watch:
If you cannot watch the above clip while at work, The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater was kind enough to document the back and forth:
“I need more out of the great Kendrick Perkins,” Shaq said, sarcastic and derogatory in his tone. “Kendrick Perkins dominated tonight. Four points. I won’t talk about myself Kendrick, I’ll just talk about you.”
Throughout the show, Shaq continued to drop little quips Perkins’ way, before denying any motive in a passive aggressive manner.
“Ya’ll can’t be having no Twitter beefs,” Barkley said to Shaq.
“I don’t have beefs, I speak from facts,” Shaq responded. “I was a bad man, what you want me to say? I was a bad man.”
And in case Perkins didn’t tape Tuesday night’s broadcast to watch after he returned from Oklahoma City’s Game 2 loss to Memphis, O’Neal fired up his own account to relay his feelings in 140 characters or less:
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) May 8, 2013
Kind of a waste, no?
Shaquille O’Neal, thus far, is not all that great on TV. Humor comes naturally to him, and former pro athletes are hired for shows like these to provide analysis spun through the prism of their own playing careers, but Shaq truly does make most segments all about himself. We could slough that off as growing pains as he’s only two seasons into a nascent television career, but considering the guy’s history, we’re not expecting some Phoenix (or Chris Webber)-styled rise.
And Shaq, of all people, should know that Perkins is put into Oklahoma City Thunder games to act as a no-stats all-star. To set screens, defend the post, cover defensively, and work up all the little things that don’t usually end up in large point, block, or rebounding totals.
The question about whether Perkins has become a suitable no-stats all-star has been batted around for years, though. Perkins can defend the post very well, but he hasn’t looked the same in side to side movement since the ACL tear he suffered in the 2010 NBA Finals. That tear inspired the Boston Celtics to sign Shaquille O’Neal for Shaq’s final season as a pro in 2010-11, and possibly inspired the team to deal Perkins for Jeff Green after a slow start to his comeback midway through that season.
Since then, there has been plenty of frustration for the Thunder and Perkins, as coach Scott Brooks has been oft-criticized for sticking with his hard-working center even against small lineups, even though reserve big man Nick Collison’s box score and on-court/off-court statistics are far superior. This movement came to a head in OKC’s tough Game 6 win over the Houston Rockets in the first round, a contest that saw Perkins start but play all of four minutes. Perk has missed 18 of 24 shots in these playoffs, he is averaging 2.2 points and over four rebounds in almost 19 minutes a game, and I’ve watched him disrupt OKC’s offensive execution a few times (including Tuesday night’s loss) with poor passing and/or screening. He has three blocks in 151 postseason minutes.
Of course, Perkins’ game isn’t supposed to be about numbers. And the genesis of all of this shouldn’t be centering on Perkins’ play, but actual discussion about Shaq’s role on the TNT broadcasts. And even though Perkins sub-tweeted O’Neal (referencing him without linking to Shaq’s Twitter account), Perk had to know what he was going in for considering Shaq’s typically sensitive nature.
In all, as with all contentious Twitter-based back and forth, there are no winners here. Just a lot of SMHs.