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That time Shaq choked out a teammate before a game, as described by Grant Hill

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Oh, there are so many Shaquille O’Neal legends. So many stories.

This is one of those legends we joke about now, and frankly is not that funny in reality.

Grant Hill was on CBS Sports HQ’s “Reiter’s Block” with my man Bill Reiter when a call-in came from Shaq himself asking about the time he was wrestling pregame with Gordan Giricek and choked him out. (Hat tip to Colin Ward-Henninger for transcribing.)

“Shaquille O’Neal choked out Gordan Giricek before a game. He put him in a sleeper hold and the guy was knocked out, passed out on the locker room floor before the game. Definitely one of Shaq’s memorable — or not-so-memorable — moments from the year and a half that I played with him with the Phoenix Suns.”

What exactly started this?

“You know, Giricek was a good player from Croatia, a good shooter, but he never passed the ball inside. He would always kind of look Shaq off and shoot it. And they kind of would go back and forth and exchange words and Giricek would kind of talk trash to Shaq. And so one day Shaq was like, ‘You know what, I’mma let this guy know who I am.’

“It was right before a big game in Phoenix against Dallas. We have our team meeting. The meeting ends, I go and use the restroom. I come out and Giricek’s laid out on the floor. And I’m like, ‘Come on Shaq! We’re trying to win!’ But it was typical Shaq. Thankfully, Giricek, nothing serious happened. Thankfully he’s living to be able to talk about it. But Shaq was always entertaining and always knocking people out, I suppose.”

The post entry pass is a lost art for a lot of guards (in part because the change to allowing zone defenses makes post ups a less efficient offensive option for bigs, post ups are now more about guards/forwards posting up smaller guys on switches). Shaq would have been in the right to be frustrated.

But to choke a guy out in the locker room before a game? Come on Shaq. This isn’t the WWE. That’s messing with a guy’s livelihood. But it’s Shaq, so everybody laughs and moves on.

Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett out at least a week with right ankle sprain

R.J. Barrett
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NEW YORK (AP) New York Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett will miss at least a week with a sprained right ankle.

Barrett was hurt during the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix on Thursday. On Friday, he had X-rays, which were negative.

The Knicks announced afterward that Barrett will be re-evaluated in a week.

The No. 3 pick in the draft from Duke is averaging 14.1 points.

Heat: Justise Winslow out at least two more weeks

Justise Winslow
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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat say Justise Winslow will miss at least two more weeks while recovering from a back injury.

Winslow has played only once since Dec. 4 and is slated to be out for at least the remainder of January. The team originally called Winslow’s injury a back strain, then updated the diagnosis to a bone bruise.

Winslow played off the bench in Miami’s win at Indiana on Jan. 8. The team said the back problems reappeared after that game. He has not played since.

Friday’s game in Oklahoma City is Miami’s 41st of the season and the 30th that Winslow has missed. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Heat this season.

Kevin Huerter’s 3-pointer gives Hawks first win in San Antonio in his lifetime (video)

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The Hawks beat the Spurs in San Antonio on Feb. 15, 1997.

The next year, Kevin Huerter was born.

Atlanta’s next win in San Antonio came Friday, when Huerter hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 121-120 win.

The Hawks’ losing streak in San Antonio spanned Tim Duncan’s entire lengthy career – and continued a few seasons beyond that. The only reprieve came during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, when Atlanta didn’t visit San Antonio. So, the skid lasted 21 games.

Buddy Hield on Kings getting booed at home: ‘That’s how Sacramento fans are’

Kings guard Buddy Hield
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Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.

Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.

Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.

“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”

Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.

But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.

Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncica particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.

The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.

If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.