By JR ISAGA / RAPPLER.COM
McGee’s reputation may have taken a hit from his appearances on ‘Shaqtin’ a Fool’ but he’s showing his worth onthe court for Golden State
JaVale McGee isn’t fooling around anymore. Game 1 of the playoff series between the first seed Golden State Warriors and the eighth seed Portland Trail Blazers was tied at halftime, 56-all. What was expected to be blowout in favor of the powerhouse Warriors was nullified by the dynamic Blazers duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combined for 48 of the team’s 56 points. Everything changed at the start of the third quarter with the arrival of McGee. He threw down powerful alley-oop dunks off the fastbreak. He swatted away shots with ease and hustled for offensive rebounds. On a team full of spark plugs like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, it was the defensive stopper McGee who willed the Warriors to a 10-0 run that would ultimately be too much for Portland. The top title contenders eventually won, 121-109, burying the 75-point explosion of McCollum and Lillard. Ultimately, the Warriors have Shaquille O’Neal to thank for letting them snag McGee at a bargain contract this offseason. After two years of being the star of the Hall of Famer’s blooper reel Shaqtin’ a Fool, McGee has built up a reputation in basketball as a boneheaded player. Through constant exposure on the show along with a lengthy battle with injuries, the former Slam Dunk Contest runner-up’s stock in the market plummeted. After being cut by the lowly Philadelphia 76ers after being traded from the Denver Nuggets, McGee soon found himself in Oakland after a brief stint in Dallas. Although he bounced around cities and left teams quickly, his defensive prowess never left him. Now at a contract nearly $11 million dollars cheaper than his last one, McGee still led the NBA in block percentage, meaning that he was the most efficient at blocking shots with whatever minutes given to him. Despite failing to even average 10 minutes on the court this season – standing at 9.6 minutes a game – he still boasted a 0.9 blocks per game average. To put this in perspective, his blocks per game average per 36 minutes (a statistical method that nullifies irregularities in minutes played) stands at 3.3 per game as a Warrior, which is almost identical to his 3.2 average when he was the star center in Washington back in 2011. Clearly fed up by O’Neal’s treatment, McGee let out his frustrations last year and kept at it until March of this year, when O’Neal finally decided to take him off his show. “Fans think it’s real, like that’s real life and they think I’m a dumb person,” McGee said in a Yahoo Sports article. “It’s just really disappointing that grown men, 50, 40 year olds are having America’s funniest home videos of a player. And then making it a hashtag and really just trying to ruin someone’s career over basketball mistakes.” He has yet to reappear on Shaqtin’ a Fool, and likely for good reason. There’s simply no time to joke around when you’re finally chasing a championship.