Christian Wood called out Shaquille O’Neal during a post-game interview Thursday for not respecting his playing abilities. Wood, who is emerging as a star for the Houston Rockets, led his team to a 109-105 win over the Spurs.
Wood finished the game with 27 points, 15 rebounds after the team’s first win since trading superstar James Harden to the Nets earlier this week. The 25-year-old was dominant for the Rockets who were also without stars John Wall and Eric Gordon.
“I owe you an apology, I wasn’t really familiar with your game …” Shaq said to him during a TNT interview.
“Oh, man, you’re a casual,” he hit back. The implication being O’Neal isn’t a serious analyst.
Shaq ignored the insult and continued to talk to Wood.
“People didn’t know who you were, they’re definitely going to know who you are now,” he said, “because you’re one of the stars of this team.”
The remark sparked debate online. Several people called out Wood for disrespecting an NBA legend. Others Wood has proven his talent and Shaq should have noticed earlier.
“These youngsters are too often disrespectful. He’s a casual?! He’s a basketball analyst on TNT! WTH Are you saying? He was trying to give you a compliment. Just because he’s not as familiar with your game. Stop it! It’s not like you’re a superstar man. Good game smh,” someone replied to the SportsCenter tweet.
“Shaq and crew are too old to interview today’s players, TNT needs to replace the entire cast minus Ernie!” someone posted on Facebook. “The game has changed in all areas, need some up to date former NBA All-Star’s who can relate to what current players are going through. Plenty of recently retired players to choose from to get quality commentary.”
Christian Wood Emerges as a Leader for Rockets
That will hinge on big plays from Christian Wood, John Wall, Victor Oladipo, and Eric Gordon. Wood joined the team in the offseason after his play in Detroit made him one of the most sought-after free agents, CBS Sports said. He signed a three-year, $41 million deal with Houston and is averaging 22 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game this season. And he’s proven he can be a leader on the court as well, which the team needs as they try to find who they are without Harden.
The Rockets will play the Spurs again on Saturday.