The Utah Jazz bowed out of the postseason early once again this year, which means Rudy Gobert has more time for two things: bee-keeping and online trash-talk. He presumably is still doing the former despite getting stung in the middle of his team's series against the Dallas Mavericks. On Monday, he engaged in some of the latter.
Here's the context: during a podcast appearance, Shaq expressed his strongly-held belief that he'd cook Gobert if the two were matched up against one another back when Big Diesel was still taking the court. Host Spice Adams said he thought Gobert would be able to hold Shaq to 12 points, to which Shaq responded, "Yeah, 12 points in the first three minutes." This is not unusual for the former MVP. It seems he spends most of his time talking about how he'd dominate anybody when he isn't on Inside The NBA.
Gobert saw this quote posted on the Bleacher Report Instagram account and responded, saying he'd "lock his ass up" with a lock emoji.
Shaq, never one to back down as a player and a media personality, responded in kind on his own Instagram.
Hmm. I wonder what will happen now. Surely the TNT producers wouldn't have an entire segment centered around this exchange on tonight's edition of Inside The NBA? Oh, wait. Yes they will. Absolutely. It will be tremendous content.
This is actually a fun fake matchup to think about. Gobert is the best post defender of this generation and possesses the frame and length to give Shaq a hell of a time down low. He doesn't have the girth to stop Shaq in his tracks, because arguably nobody ever has or ever will, but he'd do as good a job as anybody. Ben Wallace played perfect defense on Shaq in the 2004 NBA Finals and he still managed 26 points per game. Could Gobert do the same? Perhaps! It's hard to think of anybody else who could give Shaq a real run for his money in today's game. Maybe Joel Embiid, but other than that...
The value of Gobert is a constantly-debated topic but he's undoubtedly an elite defender who could bother Shaq. But bothering Shaq and locking Shaq up are two different things entirely. Alas. We'll have to keep these theoreticals to video games and whatever the Inside The NBA team cooks up tonight.