Shaquille O’Neal Defends Houston Star as “Petty” Steph Curry and Warriors Humble Rockets

Published 04/05/2024, 1:27 AM EDT

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As Shaq counted on, the Warriors are on a good run. It’s bringing out self-proclaimed “Petty King,Stephen Curry’s bratty side. Before suffering a 110-133 defeat, the Houston Rockets player Tari Eason referenced the 1979 cult classic, The Warriors, to taunt his opponents. Curry responded, referencing the movie too. Shaquille O’Neal’s temporary co-hosts at Inside the NBA were glad the 11th-seeded Rockets trolled the 10th-seeded Warriors because it seemed to bring out the best in Dubs.

However, Shaq played devil’s advocate and defended Eason who quoted the famous movie line, “Warriors, come out to play,” in a wild Instagram clip. “You guys think he was messin’ with the Warriors?” Shaq asked his co-hosts because he’s not counting it as trash-talk. “I don’t think he was trying to go at them guys.” 

For context, the Dubs and Rockets had a provocative exchange before the game. Draymond Green previously said he didn’t care about the Rockets, though they could upset their Western Conference standings. Eason quoted the movie first and the Warriors complied. The Rockets were close to stealing their post-season berth before Steph & Co. came out to play.


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With 1:48 left on the clock and the Warriors leading 126-104, Petty Curry also made a Warriors reference. He put three bottles on his fingers and recreated the scene where Luther (the main baddie of The Warriors played by David Patrick Kelly) said the line. In the post-game press conference, Curry admitted he was pulling a petty trick at Eason. “Yeah absolutely, having some fun with it,” he stated but without much hate. But this wasn’t the first time Chef did something like that.

During the 2022 NBA Finals, a reporter asked him about the ongoing trash talks and taunts across the arena. Curry simply said, “I’m the petty king. So I know all about everything and I use it as entertainment and have fun with it.” with a smile on his face.


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Green accepted the challenge on his podcast ahead of the game. Klay Thompson didn’t condone that behavior. However, Eason did give them much motivation to ‘play’ and the TNT guys enjoyed it. Shaq, though, knows true trash talk and he hardly counts this entire exchange as one. The NBA community is having a field day with it, though there was a fair degree of disdain thrown Eason’s way, especially after Thompson’s comments. But Shaq says, “they just having fun.” He knows because he loves that movie enough to make it part of his personality.

Shaq digs the pettiness

Back when he won one of his three championships with the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal was at the victory celebration bellowing into the microphone, Can you dig it?” Very few were old enough to realize that it’s the iconic line Cyrus (Roger Hill) says in The Warriors. No surprise because Shaq admitted today he loves that movie.


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Adam Lefkoe didn’t make that connection until Eason and Curry made The Warriors a must-re-watch today. It’s such a quotable movie that Shaq thinks Eason only seized the opportunity because they were playing a team coincidentally named the Warriors. But his co-hosts provided additional context that proved Eason was a little prematurely confident the Rockets would steal the Dubs’ spot in the play-ins. Shaq conceded then that it was trash talk.


Written by:

Caroline John


One take at a time

Caroline John is a senior NBA writer at EssentiallySports. She holds a Masters degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from a reputed university. With 8 years of experience in content writing and after judiciously covering the life of Shaquille O’Neal, she even earned an exclusive interview with the CEO of Shaq’s Big Chicken franchise, Josh Halpern.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth