Shaq disagrees with LeBron James after schedule complaints

MCDONOUGH, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Shaquille O'Neal speaks during Pepsi Stronger Together and CTG Foundation Atlanta Law Enforcement Press Conference on April 07, 2021 in McDonough, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Pepsi Stronger Together) | LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on April 30, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

On June 16th, Lakers superstar LeBron James posted a series of tweets blaming the number of injuries this year on the compressed schedule. Specifically, he focused on the injuries in the playoffs and for all-stars. For three tweets, he berated the league office for neglecting the well-being of the players. However, in a recent interview with CNBC, NBA Hall-of-Famer and TNT broadcaster Shaquille O’Neal responded.

O’Neal has never shied away from criticizing the toughness of current NBA players. In the interview, Shaq essentially stated that LeBron and other NBA players make so much money that they have no right to complain about a compressed schedule or any other small hardship they have had to endure this year.

James and O’Neal are two of the loudest voices in the league, and it is no surprise to see them clash. Shaq speaks for the previous generation of NBA stars. He praises grit and toughness and considers the modern NBA soft. James, by comparison, is the face of the modern NBA. He rests when he needs to and spends millions of dollars taking care of his body. In the tweets, he even spoke of the fact that nobody understood the effect on the body of playing NBA basketball as he does.

“If thereís one person that know about the body and how it works all year round, itís ME! I speak for the health of all our players, and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year.”

LeBron James

Perhaps more significantly, James claimed that he shared this with the league office before the season. For most of his career, James has worked so closely with the league. He is the face of the league and at the center of advertising campaigns. He discusses ways to empower players and build the NBA brand. So to hear him blatantly attack NBA decision-makers was a shocking change of tone.

“They all didnít wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well-being of the players, which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isnít just ďPART OF THE GAME.Ē Itís the lack of PURE RIM REST rest before starting back up.”

-LeBron James

However, Shaq did not want to hear LeBron complain about the schedule. While he began his statements by saying, “Iím not knocking what anybody said, but me personally, I donít complain and make excuses,” he then directly responded to James.

ďWhen youíre living in a world where 40 million people have been laid off, and Iím making $200 million, you wonít get no complaining from me; Iíd play back to back to back to back to back… because real people are working their tail off and all we gotta do is train two hours a day, and then play a game for two hours at night and make a lot of money…So my thought process is a little different.Ē

-Shaquille O’Neal

Ultimately, both Shaq and LeBron make valid points about dealing with this year’s schedule. While the NBA has provided numbers that show injuries are not at an all-time high, they are certainly up this year. LeBron’s complaints are valid, though there is always some luck when injuries are involved. But it was a tough season for the players, and that’s not even including the toll on mental health. However, O’Neal chose to take the broader view. While injuries are terrible to see in the NBA, many in the United States and the world have it much worse.

The reality of the situation is simple but ugly: the NBA made a tough decision about this at the start of the year. It was necessary to have a season. So many people depend on the NBA for their job. And this doesn’t just mean players, coaches, and executives, many of whom are well paid. This means arena staffers, concession workers, ball-people, floor sweepers, every miscellaneous position. The NBA is a massive business, and it couldn’t afford to shut down. The compressed schedule probably meant a higher injury risk. But things couldn’t shut down. That is the brutal nature of running a business in a pandemic. That’s true for every business, not just the NBA. It just happens that the NBA dealt with the backlash on a public stage.

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