After Shaquille O’Neal sparked widespread concern by tweeting a photo of himself from a hospital bed Sunday night, Ernie Johnson offered an important medical update.
O’Neal sent a tweet commending Candace Parker for using one of his favorite phrases, “barbecue chicken,” while covering the NCAA Tournament from WBD Studios in Atlanta alongside Johnson, Jay Wright and Seth Davis. O’Neal followed that tweet with a concerning photo of himself in a hospital bed, adding, “I’m always watching [Ernie Johnson and Candace Parker].”
i’m always watching @TurnerSportsEJ and @Candace_Parker miss y’all pic.twitter.com/4tY4X6v1Pj
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 19, 2023
As TNT flashed the image of O’Neal during the broadcast, Johnson provided insight as to why he was in a hospital bed. O’Neal might have a few weeks of recovery ahead of him, but according to his NBA on TNT colleague, the Basketball Hall of Famer will be all right after recently undergoing hip surgery.
Ernie Johnson briefly addressed Shaq's hospital photo last night pic.twitter.com/nJdPouzoCy
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 20, 2023
“Wishing you the best, Shaquille,” said Johnson. “He’s getting a new hip, as a matter of a fact.”
The nagging hip must have been bad enough that surgery could not wait for the NBA offseason, which remains a few months away. However, the Thursday NBA on TNT show is currently off for the NCAA Tournament, and doesn’t return until March 30. And unlike Inside The NBA colleagues Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith, O’Neal doesn’t currently work on the WBD/CBS tournament coverage. So he isn’t missing any scheduled assignments right now.
No specific timetable for O’Neal’s recovery was provided, either on air or via outreach to WBD. But during the latest episode of O’Neal’s Big Shaq Podcast, he referenced hoping to get back into the gym by April 16. Last year, he spoke openly about his work in the gym and his lifestyle changes that led to a noticeable weight loss.
The NBA Play-In Tournament begins April 11, with the playoffs tipping off on the 15th. If O’Neal is able to get back in the gym by April 16, hopefully that means he can return to the NBA on TNT set in time for the playoffs.
WebMD hip replacement timelines suggest that many people who undergo that procedure hurt much less and may not even need pain medication within 10 to 14 days after surgery, and can resume most of their normal light activities three to six weeks after the surgery. Every individual medical situation is different, of course, and we know none of the specifics with O’Neal that might alter those timelines. But there’s certainly a chance we could see him on TNT again by the playoffs, or perhaps even before.