Before becoming an NBA champion, JaVale McGee was predominantly known around the NBA as the MVP of the famous satirical show Shaqtin A Fool hosted by Shaquille O’Neal. If you watched the show regularly, you could’ve seen JaVale on almost every episode taking the first spot with some of the ridiculous things he did in nearly every game. Some of the clowning from Shaq was uncalled for, but sometimes JaVale really looked like he doesn’t belong in the NBA with some of his flops and questionable decisions on the basketball court.
The show had several seasons, and JaVale was featured in pretty much every episode, which throughout the years caused a lot of damage to his reputation and his NBA career. In a recent interview for the Shay Shay podcast, JaVale opened up on all the damage done to him because of the show and how he had to fight back to gain respect from the NBA community.
According to JaVale, his career finally changed in the right direction when he joined the Golden State Warriors in 2016. Being on a winning squad as a supporting center helped him get his confidence back because he was finally playing meaningful minutes while showcasing he is not an absolute bust. He used that opportunity to speak out against all the criticism he received and how he finally felt empowered to raise his voice and defend his legacy.
At the time that was happening, I wasn’t in the position to really speak on it where it would get any push, any clout if I had spoken about it early on. When I got to Golden State, and we were winning, I was put in a position where I can actually speak and have a voice, and people would actually hear it. It gave me that power to be like, alright now, I can actually speak. If I have spoken about it before, it would still be going on. I found the opportunity to actually speak on it, and things were happening where he was putting posts of me missing a layup, and that is on the show. I’m like, it’s a missed layup; that is extremely simple, let’s not overdo it, and it was just too much.JaVale McGee, via Club Shay Shay
At one point, JaVale decided to take the matter into his own hands and regain the respect he lost after his initial few years in the NBA. There was a notion around the league among coaches that JaVale was incapable of playing in the NBA, which obviously rubbed him the wrong way. When your reputation is so diminished, it takes a long time to regain it back, and JaVale had to experience that firsthand more than any other player in recent NBA history.
You have to draw the line somewhere, and it was in the public, so I had to put it in public and put it on Twitter and say what I have to say. I didn’t realize what it was doing to my career until I started moving to other teams. I would talk to other coaches, and they would say they would see Shaqtin A Fool stuff and have a different mental of you, and I never knew you were a smart kid, you are extremely vocal, you are a great basketball player. It was slowly chipping away my reputation where every other coach in the league said I don’t want him because we see what he is doing on Shaqtin A Fool. If you can make any lowlight of Jordan right now, and if you never seen the highlights, you would think he is the worst player in the world. It was definitely a downward spiral ever since that show aired.JaVale McGee, via Club Shay Shay
We’ve seen this happen multiple times, not just in sports but other areas of life as well, when the media paints a picture and a narrative about someone. It’s hard to regain reputation when someone is slandered for such a long time as JaVale was, and people start to perceive him in a certain way even though they have no real knowledge of what he is all about.
Luckily for JaVale, he was able to turn his career around after joining the Warriors and is now a respected veteran, NBA champion, and Olympic gold medalist. Things turned around for him in a positive way, and it’s great to see JaVale still actively playing in the NBA because most of the players would crumble after all that pressure and criticism he endured during those years.