Mother knows best? Shaquille and Lucille O’Neal in 2004.

Image: Picture Perfect/REX/Shutterstock

We recently covered how a Twitter beef between NBA legend-turned-TV-analyst Shaquille O’Neal and Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee got really intense really quick. Just how intense, though? 

Now their moms are involved. Shaq’s mother reportedly intervened to calm things down between the two grown men — but McGee’s mom isn’t ready to bury the hatchet just yet. 

“He cyberbullied my son,” Pamela McGee, a former U.S. Olympian and WNBA player, told The Undefeated this weekend. “Totally inappropriate. Shaquille needs to lose his job or be suspended. The NBA needs to make a stand.”

While O’Neal is a household name, McGee might not be known to casual NBA fans. The center is enjoying a career renaissance with Golden State. This comes after several years during which McGee was a league laughingstock for his habit of making air-headed mistakes on the court — a reputation fueled in no small part by O’Neal frequently highlighting those mistakes with derisive glee on national TV. 

McGee has eliminated the Jeff Spicoli moments from his game this season while excelling for the Warriors — but O’Neal hasn’t stopped his relentless needling. He recently starred in a Doctor Strange parody for example, that looked back at some of McGee’s career lowlights over the years. 

That’s how we got to this point, all fueled by Twitter posts between the two jumbo-sized hoopers. 

McGee accused O’Neal of “cooning” — that is, entertaining white audiences by playing to black stereotypes — not once but twice. O’Neal threatened McGee that he’d “smack the s**t out yo bum ass.” McGee told O’Neal to “EAD”, which stands for eating a part of the male anatomy that’s commonly referred by a nickname for Richard. There was more back-and-forth, too, but you have a sense for the level of discourse here by this point.. 

Now O’Neal says he “has orders from the top” to stop the bickering. “The top,” in this case, is his mom. 

“It’s not funny anymore, seeing the things they’re saying to each other. They need to squash this and move on,” Lucille O’Neal told The Undefeated.

“Now, I understand how after a while JaVale could get tired of it. Look at how many times he’s been laughed at,” she added. “Bottom line, the mouth gets us in a lot of trouble. This is now reminding me of young kids on the playground, where one boy gotta have the last word. Sometimes you need to just walk away.”

A couple days before O’Neal and McGee’s respective mothers weighed in, the Warriors reportedly approached TNT, O’Neal’s employer, in an attempt to broker a back-channel peace deal between the two. But Pamela McGee, it seems, won’t go so quietly. 

Pamela McGee in 1999, when she was a WNBA player.

Pamela McGee in 1999, when she was a WNBA player.

Image: Eric Charbonneau/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock

She told The Undefeated that, “as African-Americans, we have always had individuals who will sell out their communities for two barrels of rum. This is straight-up black-on-black oppression.”

She also doubled down on her cyber-bullying claim. 

JaVale McGee is currently enjoying the best season of his career.

JaVale McGee is currently enjoying the best season of his career.

Image: Herbert/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

“If you really want to get technical with it, it’s bullying,” Pamela McGee said. “We all have little jokes and stuff. But when you continue to pick on just one person – as his career is resurrecting – there’s nothing to it but bullying. And it’s unacceptable. You can’t allow someone to continue to do this who represents TNT and the NBA. He is a representative of TNT and the NBA. Broadcasters are held to a higher authority. He should lose his job.”

Firing O’Neal for all this seems unlikely at best, although TNT had not at the time of this writing responded to our request for further comment. 

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering: McGee, turned 29 years old last month. O’Neal turns 45 next week.



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