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NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal offered sobering words to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James after the league’s loudest voice on issues both on and off the court complained publicly about a supposedly grueling season.
O’Neal attempted to offer some perspective to James, who made headlines after he went on a Twitter rant to oppose the quick turnaround following the conclusion of the 2020 NBA season, which ended with James and the Lakers winning a championship ring.
With regard to the injury bug that has seen traditional basketball heavyweights knocked out of the playoffs this year, James went after the league.
“They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen,” he tweeted on June 16 after his team was knocked out of the postseason in the first round.
“I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just ‘PART OF THE GAME,” the 36-year-old Lakers star added. “It’s the lack of PURE RIM REST rest before starting back up.”
James went on to lament that “8, possibly 9 ALL-STARS has missed Playoff games(most in league history).”
“This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It’s insane. If there’s one person that know about the body and how it works all year round it’s ME!” he concluded. “I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now.”
RIM REST rest before starting back up. 8, possibly 9 ALL-STARS has missed Playoff games(most in league history). This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It’s insane. If there’s one person that know about the body and how it
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
works all year round it’s ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now. ???
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
The Hall of Famer noted that while high-paid athletes such as James complain, millions of Americans would love to have their sense of financial and job security. O’Neal, of course, played in a different era — even if that era wasn’t so long ago.
“When you’re living in a world where people, 40 million people have been laid off and I’m making $200 million, you won’t get no complaining from me,” O’Neal told CNBC. “If I gotta play back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back, and I’m making all that money, I just gotta do what the job entitles me to do.”
“I’m not knocking what anybody said, but me personally, I don’t complain or make excuses, because real people like you who really work your tail off, you don’t make as much as we do, and all we gotta do is train two hours a day and then play a game two hours at night and we make a lot of money,” the four-time NBA champ added. “So my thought process is a little different.”
“This is the first time in a while that juggernauts have been gone,” he told CNBC.
At that time, only the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks remained in contention for the title.
Meanwhile, big-name stars such as James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving were sitting around with fans waiting for a league champion to be crowned. (The Bucks would go on to beat the Suns in the Finals.)
O’Neal appeared as though he’d like to see those stars, particularly James, use their offseason to find a little bit of humility and perspective. Injuries are a part of the game for players, but their paychecks never stop coming in.
The same can’t be said for the everyday people who have seen their lives upended over the last year or two by situations beyond their control.
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