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#pounditWednesday, June 29, 2022

Shaq and Charles Barkley sound off on Kyrie Irving’s gesture

Shaq holds a mic

Mar 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA: Former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal speaks during a NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley were not enamored with how Kyrie Irving responded to Boston Celtics fans on Sunday.

Cameras caught Irving flipping off Celtics fans during Sunday’s Game 1 loss in Boston. The former Celtic later acknowledged the action, saying he was giving Celtics fans the “same energy” they were giving him.

O’Neal said on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” pregame show that he did not want to hear Irving’s complaints, and that Irving needs to tune out the fans instead of responding to them.

“If the great Bill Russell went through it, I want to go through it also,” O’Neal said. “I don’t really want to hear all that. Certain cities, they don’t care what you say in the press conference. You know what’s going to happen in Game 2? They’ll be talking more smack up there in Boston. It happens to the best of us. You don’t think people said stuff to Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon?”

Barkley weighed in and essentially called Irving whiny for publicly responding.

“Most of the fans are amazing. Some of them are going to say some rude stuff,” Barkley said. “Please stop it, you athletes of today, whining like little…come on, man.”

Shaq’s point essentially seems to be that there’s nothing Irving can do here. The more he reacts, the more Celtics fans will think they’re in the Nets guard’s head.

Irving wanted to smooth things over with Celtics fans before the series, but that was never going to happen. By drawing attention to the reaction he’s getting, justified or not, he risks that storyline becoming more of a distraction.

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