With Dwight Howard steadily fading out of his NBA career, it’s become time for Shaq to find a new big man to prod from his perch on the TNT set. While he’s become a fan of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, offering up chiefly praise for the three torch bearing big men of today’s NBA, there is one center Shaq finds himself wanting more from in Jazz big man Rudy Gobert.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has had to grow fairly accustomed to criticism from all over the league, whether it be Shaq or Draymond Green or just fans in general, who have grown tired of the insistence that he’s the most dominant defender in the NBA despite not being able to back that up with playoff success. Whether that’s more an indictment of Gobert or the Jazz’s perimeter defenders depends on who you ask, but despite his clearly elite defensive skills, the playoffs almost always end with Gobert at the butt of jokes.
Recently, Gobert came up on Shaq’s podcast when someone noted he’d score just 12 points on the big man, to which Shaq fired back “Yeah, in three minutes.” That made the rounds on social media, and Rudy decided to hop in Instagram comments to reassert that he would “lock his ass up.” Naturally, that ended up being some fodder for the Inside the NBA crew, with Charles Barkley loving the opportunity to rile Shaq up by siding with Gobert, telling Shaq that Rudy would be eating “black BBQ chicken” and “hurt kids in the stands blocking your shots.”
"He's gonna hurt kids in the stands blocking yo shot." 😂
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 10, 2022
Normally that’d be the type of thing to get Shaq going, but even the big fella couldn’t help but just laugh at Barkley’s prodding — while still insisting that he’d just go right through Rudy’s “skinny ass” and dunk on him when Kenny pointed out he wouldn’t be able to get a jump hook off. As is always the case here, there’s no real way this gets settled considering it was a question of Shaq in his prime against Rudy in his prime, and as such both guys should absolutely assert they would win because there’s no way to prove it wrong.
That said, Dwyane Wade is something of a mediator here as a minority owner of the Jazz and a longtime friend of Shaq’s, and his idea is to settle it at All-Star next year in Utah.