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“Michael Jordan Had Criticized Him To His Face”: Shaquille O’Neal And Charles Barkley’s Celtics Arguments Receive Pushback From Colin Cowherd

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

"Michael Jordan Had Criticized Him To His Face": Shaquille O'Neal And Charles Barkley's Celtics Arguments Receive Pushback From Colin Cowherd

The Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA and have been cruising all season long. However, they have looked shaky recently, losing four of their last 10 games. Their back-to-back losses against potential playoff opponents Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks prompted harsh criticism from Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley. Interestingly, Colin Cowherd stepped up and replied back to the former NBA stars.

The former Phoenix Suns superstar was irked with the C’s performance in the first half of their loss against the Knicks and called the players out, saying,

“If they’re going to play like that, they shouldn’t play. If you’re going to go out there and half-a*s it like they did in Milwaukee the other night, when they didn’t shoot a free throw…I know they’re going to finish with the best record, but, man, you can’t turn it off and turn it on again.”

O’Neal took to ‘The Big Podcast with Shaq’ to diss the Celtics. On the latest episode, co-host Adam Lefkoe asked the Hall of Famer which team he felt was overrated and without hesitation, the four-time NBA champion responded, “Boston. I’ve been in this league, around the league a long time. I’ve seen a lot of guys that have had a great regular season, but they don’t win championships.”

Fox Sports analyst heard Barkley and O’Neal’s comments and came to the Celtics’ defense with a mirror. On Friday’s episode of The Herd, he said,

“I love Shaq, but he was perpetually distracted and Barkley was not know for laser focus either. Michael Jordan had criticized him to his face and behind his back, saying, ‘You’re just too distracted. You’re not committed enough.”

Cowherd added that the Celtics did the hard work by claiming the #1 seed in the playoffs two and a half weeks before the regular season ended and can afford to sit back and wait until the playoffs start.

Notably, Boston gains nothing from trying hard when they already have earned home-court advantage in the playoffs. They were spectacular when they had to be and are now ensuring they recuperate and have a healthy roster before the playoffs commence. Losing a player to injury in an inconsequential regular season game is the worst-case scenario for the Celtics and they’ve steered clear of that scenario.

Boston Celtics’ exceptional campaign

"Michael Jordan Had Criticized Him To His Face": Shaquille O'Neal And Charles Barkley's Celtics Arguments Receive Pushback From Colin Cowherd
Credits: USA Today Sports

The Celtics have been the most consistent team in the Eastern Conference in the last ten years. They’ve made the playoffs for the past nine years and have found themselves in the conference championship series in five of the past seven campaigns. However, they’ve advanced to the NBA Finals only once in that span and have failed to win the championship.

After their brutal loss to the Miami Heat in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, they went all in the offseason, acquiring Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday and becoming the favorites to win the NBA title. They’ve lived up to their billing as championship favorites.

Per, they have the fifth-stingiest defense in the league, giving up only 109.1 points per game, while their offense, which averages 120.4 points per game, is the second-most prolific behind the Indiana Pacers (122.7).

The Celtics have ruled the Eastern Conference with an iron fist this year. Their 14-game lead over second-placed Milwaukee Bucks is three games bigger than Western Conference leader Oklahoma City Thunder’s lead over 10th-placed Golden State Warriors. The numbers render O’Neal and Barkley’s criticism moot. The Celtics are inarguably the team to beat in the East, if not the NBA.

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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