I was recently reminded of the power of mums after an incident involving two professional basketball players.
Shaquille O’Neal is an NBA legend whose 19-year career includes four championships, three Finals Most Valuable Player awards and 15 All-Star appearances. Standing at 2.16 metres and weighing more than 145 kg, “Shaq” is widely regarded as the “most dominant” player to ever play the game. He currently works as analyst for Turner Network Television’s official NBA channel.
JaVale McGee, meanwhile, is a nine-year NBA veteran who currently plays a key reserve role for the Golden State Warriors. Standing at 2.13 metres, the athletic big man is known for his dunking ability and hustle on the court. McGee, though, has also become both famous and infamous for his appearances on O’Neal’s popular TV segment “Shaqtin’ a Fool”, which showcases the goofs made by NBA players over the course of a week.
Normally a light-hearted comedy routine, things turned ugly a couple of weeks ago when McGee took exception to O’Neal’s persistent mockery and racially slurred the popular TV host on Twitter. The back-and-forth escalated further, with insults from both men getting increasingly personal.
The Twitter war would eventually capture the attention of the rest of the NBA, with players and coaches weighing in on the situation. Golden State Warriors executives even approached Turner Sports in an attempt to rein in O’Neal, with the team claiming his constant jokes were having a negative effect on McGee.
Despite the interventions, the verbal stoush continued. That is until O’Neal’s mother stepped in.
“Just say Shaq’s mum called him, told him, ‘Stop this silliness. Leave him alone,’” said the 45-year-old O’Neal. “So that’s the end of the beef. You won’t be hearing about it from my side anymore. Mama has spoken.”
It’s amazing to think that a giant of a man and somebody known as the “most dominant” would yield to the wishes of his mum. But it happened. Or should I say, it happens. There’s just something extra special about a mother’s words. When she speaks, you listen.
“Bottom line, the mouth gets us in a lot of trouble,” said O’Neal’s mother, Lucille. “Sometimes you need to just walk away . . . It’s not funny anymore. It’s not funny. They need to stop.”
The Twitter feud seems to have ended, but unfortunately the hurt still lingers. In another example of motherly care, McGee’s mum has called on Turner Sports and the NBA to discipline O’Neal for “cyberbullying” her son.
It’s uncertain if any action will be taken against O’Neal, and we can only wait and see if a truce between the two men really has been established. What is certain, though, is both O’Neal and McGee, and the NBA community, are in a better place than they were a couple of weeks ago. The storm has quieted because of one reason . . .
“Mama has spoken.”