Shaquille O'Neal Nikola Jokic TNT NBA Tip-Off Photo Credit: TNT Photo Credit” TNT

Nikola Jokić was interviewed on Wednesday on TNT’s NBA Tip-Off to offer what should have been a perfunctory congratulations to the Denver Nuggets star for winning his third NBA MVP Award.

Yet just as Shaq always seemed to make difficult things look simple on the basketball court, sometimes he makes simple things on the TNT set look awkward. So O’Neal congratulated Jokić … then told him Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserved the award.

Jokić was announced Wednesday night as the winner of this year’s MVP honors, winning the award for the third time in four years.

“Joker, as the president of the ‘Big Man Alliance’ … you know I love you, [you’re] the best player in the league,” Shaq began, “I want to congratulate you, but I want you to hear it from me first. I thought that SGA should have been the MVP. That’s no disrespect to you, but congratulations.

“And what do you guys have to do to get back on track against Minnesota?”

That’s quite the segue and a terribly awkward moment for O’Neal. Jokić took it in stride, responding with a joke.

“Thank you, Shaq,” he said. “We don’t judge people here, that’s fine — that’s your opinion. I’m joking.”

“Hey, all good,” O’Neal responded. “I love you, I love your brothers. One thing we’re always going to do is keep it real with each other. Congratulations, I love you.”

“There’s a lot of players that deserve it,” Jokić said.

Many fans found the moment cringeworthy. Certainly, many people shared O’Neal’s feelings on SGA, but to come out and say that to Jokić was not a good look.

[Photo Credit: TNT]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.