NBA star JaVale McGee has an interesting story about how Shaqtin’ a Fool hurt his career.
JaVale McGee was a college basketball player who had an illustrious career at the University of Nevada. After being drafted by the Washington Wizards, he has been struggling to find his place in the NBA. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, McGee revealed that Shaqtin’ A Fool hurt his career and made it difficult for him to get back on track.
McGee, JaVale should have received regular compensation for his work on Shaquille O’Neal’s blooper video Shaqtin’ a Fool early in his career. On TNT’s Inside the NBA, a weekly program featuring NBA players in their less-than-ideal moments focused extensively on young McGee’s blunders. McGee, now a 33-year-old veteran entering his 14th NBA season, thinks it harmed his career.
McGee signed a one-year, $4.2 million deal with the Phoenix Suns in August 2021, his ninth franchise. He brings three championship rings to a team that reached the NBA Finals last season, and he should offer a huge body to back up rookie Deandre Ayton in Phoenix. The Suns’ lack of size proved deadly in the Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Coming out of Nevada, JaVale McGee was gifted but inexperienced.
JaVale McGee spent four years at three different high schools, including Detroit Country Day School (alma mater of Chris Webber and Shane Battier) and Providence Christian in rural Fremont, Michigan, before completing his education at Hales Franciscan in Chicago.
Before declaring for the 2008 NBA Draft, he played two seasons at the University of Nevada. McGee was selected 18th overall by the Washington Wizards, but he was far from complete when he arrived in D.C. Before being traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2012, he was their full-time starter by his third season.
In 2014, he suffered a stress fracture in his left tibia, but he rebounded with two championship campaigns with the Golden State Warriors and a third ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. Last season, he divided his time between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets.
McGee was well aware that he was often low-hanging fruit for the Shaqtin’ gang. He didn’t understand how much being in Shaquille O’Neal’s sights was affecting his career until later.
McGee discovered he had a damaged image following a transfer, due to Shaquille O’Neal.
JaVale McGee spoke up about the harm his repeated appearances on Shaqtin’ A Fool caused to his career during a recent interview on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast alongside his mother, former USC basketball player Pamela McGee:
“The problem with the entire Shaqtin’ a Fool period of when I was on there is that I didn’t know how much of an impact it was having on my career until I began moving on to other teams. And I’d speak to other coaches, and they’d say things like, ‘I’ve always seen that Shaqtin’ a Fool stuff and had a different mental evaluation, and I never realized you were a smart kid,’ in the middle of the year. You have a lot of energy and are a fantastic basketball player.
“It was gradually eroding my reputation. It was progressively chipping away as a youthful 24-year-old athletic basketball player, eager and excited.”
During his first season with the Warriors in 2017, he got into a Twitter feud with Shaquille O’Neal. Kevin Durant, the NBA’s best player, and Steve Kerr, the team’s coach, became buddies. Kerr subsequently confessed to having a “preconceived idea” of McGee, which he later recognized was incorrect.
JaVale McGee followed in his mother’s footsteps as an Olympic gold winner.
Despite enduring a lot of criticism from Shaquille O’Neal’s blooper videos early in his career, JaVale McGee is an Olympic gold medalist and three-time NBA champion. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Pamela McGee is a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame after winning two national titles at USC. She was also a part of the 1984 U.S. Olympic gold-medal winning women’s basketball team.
In 2021, JaVale McGee followed in his mother’s footsteps by winning a gold medal with the United States men’s team in Tokyo. The McGees are the first mother-son Olympic gold medalists.
He’s also moved on from his early missteps and built a respectable, if not outstanding, NBA career. Despite being the punchline to a slew of Shaquille O’Neal jokes. JaVale McGee has done very well for himself, with earnings of $65.6 million (and growing). He’s progressed to the point where he’s now a “smart experienced leader.”
Basketball Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.
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