‘I Don’t Like To Rain On People’s Parade, But I’m Not Happy’: Shaq Uses Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To Shade Nikola Jokic MVP and Protect His Own Legacy

Most everybody expected Nikola Jokic to win his third MVP award in four seasons, despite being manhandled by Anthony Edwards and the T-Wolves, going down 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinal matchup.

With the accolade, Joker becomes the first center in three decades to do so and only the ninth player in league history to win at least three such honors. 

Shaq O’Neal was considered the last great center, before Jokic stormed the league and put a Euro touch on the position. In Shaq’s illustrious career, he only has one MVP award, while Joker is only 29 and already has three.

Shaquille O’Neal Tell Joker That Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Should Have Won NBA MVP

While most analysts have been singing his praises and lauding the NBA’s international takeover, Shaq didn’t like the choice and was vocal about it on NBA on TNT, 

Shaq Diesel got into a heated discussion with his co-hosts, advocating for Oklahoma City Thunder rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who received a mere 15 first-place votes, to be declared the winner. 

Shaq presented his argument for SGA, noting that he elevated an upstart Thunder team to the top of the Western Conference, leading the NBA in points (30.1) and steals per game. 

“I don’t like to rain on people’s parade, but I’m not happy with this one. Congratulations to the Joker, you’re the best big man in the league but… I felt Shai Alexander deserved it,” O’Neal said. “The fact that he has to start all over next year and try to win it all over again, I know it’s gonna be hurtful for him. I thought Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, one of only a few players that had 30 points 50 times, stat stuffer, had a great season. His team is No. 1. Nobody expected them to be No. 1.”

Stephen A. Smith agreed with Shaq on Thursday’s “First Take” episode.

Should SGA Have Won MVP Over Jokic?

An argument can be made for SGA, especially if the Thunder keep winning in these playoffs. But MVPs are voted on before the postseason begins, so that doesn’t play into the decision. It can however add to the controversy if things pan out how they are in these playoffs, with the defending champions and three-time MVP playing like cellar dwellers. 

Shaq certainly can’t be blamed for talking behind Joker’s back, because he told the Serbian star directly on the show during an interview, that he thinks Shai deserved the MVP award over him. 

Shaq’s attack comes at a time when Jokic is struggling to find a rhythm where he can help his team figure out the athleticism, speed, intensity and youth advantages of the T-Wolves. 

How Did Nikola Jokic Respond to Shaq

Joker was diplomatic in his response but had to wonder why Shaq would bring that up after the fact. What did he expect Jokic to say? 

“We don’t judge people here, so that’s fine. That’s your opinion,” Jokic responded. “I think that there’s a lot of players that deserve it.”

When you talk about top MVP candidates, as NBA player Jaren Jackson said on his appearance on Wednesday night’s show, it’s usually “the best player on the best team.” 

The Thunder and Nuggets finished with the exact same record in the Western Conference (57-25), comprising the top two seeds. 

Jokic was already the favorite entering the season, which always makes it hard for surprise or unheralded players to get their due. Joker simply maintained his standard of play, nearly averaging a triple-double (26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game this season).

He did what you call “just enough” to rise above. None of the other household names (Curry, James, Durant) were really in the running. Other perennial candidates were injured or didn’t play the necessary number of games to win the award. 

SGA Lifted OKC From 10th Seed To No. 1 Seed

Joker and SGA clocked in everyday, and Shai made that leap into the upper echelon of NBA players with jumps in rebounds (4.8 to 5.5) and his assists jumped from 5.5 to 6.2.

The impact of his performance is what jumps off the page. All of the great NBA players can get stats. They are going to get their shots, control the ball and get buckets, rebounds and assists. We have come to see that is how the NBA works nowadays.

A few guys, with great privilege and latitude in how they maneuver will rule the landscape and determine most outcomes of games. 

Shaq’s Legacy Threatened By Jokic?

Shai made his points count, leading the OKC Thunder from the 10th seed in the 2022-23 season to the top seed in 2023-24 season.

Shaq’s argument is strong and his lamenting over Shai getting a mere 15 votes is also legit. He just didn’t have to tell Joker about it because his personal feelings in the matter are clearly evident in his support of SGA. 

As Joker wins more MVPs as a center, he moves beyond the accomplishments of players such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq and other greats at the position. Shaq doesn’t like too many new faces in that club. He believes that he is the last truly great center and Joker’s recent rise can’t sit too well with The Diesel.

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