Shaquille O'Neal name-drops Hawks' Trae Young during IST

The Atlanta Hawks were enjoying a day off when Trae Young's name came up during the In-Season Tournament.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) and Wesley Matthews (32)
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) and Wesley Matthews (32) / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks get back to work after a day off with a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 8.

That’s one day after the conclusion of the In-Season Tournament semifinal round.

Even on their off day, though, Hawks star Trae Young got some air time. During TNT’s postgame interview with Tyrese Haliburton following the Indiana Pacers’ IST win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal referred to the former Sacramento King as “Trae” right to his face.

“I told Kenny [Anderson], I said, ‘Kenny, Trae is the real deal,’” O’Neal said referring to Haliburton to whom he was speaking. Haliburton’s father was also sitting on the panel and seemed to take notice, though it was host Ernie Johnson who corrected O’Neal.

“Tyrese, excuse me,” O’Neal said when corrected. “Ernie, it ain’t me. It’s that damn cannabis behind me. It’s that cannabis behind me got me [does loopy motion].”

Young has not yet shared his reaction to the slip which everyone laughed off.

Haliburton has certainly blossomed into one of the game’s brightest young stars, something the Pacers have not had since early Paul George. Coming off his first All-Star nod last season, the fourth-year guard is averaging 26.9 points and 12.1 assists while shooting 44.1% from the outside this season. 

The Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers will do battle in the In-Season Tournament Championship in Las Vegas on December 9. The winner will claim $500,000 per player in prize money, a medal for each player, and the IST Cup.

Hawks’ Trae Young appears to agree with Mavericks’ Jason Kidd

The Hawks star has rounded into form after a rocky start to the regular season. After averaging 23.5 points while shooting 27.8% from beyond the arc over his first 10 appearances of the season, Young is averaging 31.3 points while shooting 40.6% from deep in the last eight games.

That turnaround – which has included some strong defense from the relatively diminutive guard – has been less publicized than his early-season struggles were. 

In that, Young seems to have common ground with Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Write some positive s***,” Kidd said in response to a repeat question about what has changed for the Mavs this season. It's alright to write positive stuff. People will read your positive s***. You don't always have to be negative. The world is already negative enough. Let's see some positive stuff on positive people.”

Young has had his fair share of tense moments with the media. And he even took matters into his own hands, starting the “From The Point by Trae Young” podcast in large part, he said, to control his narrative.

The two-time All-Star has used the platform to vent about a variety of topics ranging from how to be a better podcaster to what his first season alongside Dejounte Murray was like.

Young’s turnaround is more significant for the Hawks than the outside opinions.

That doesn’t mean the Hawks star hasn’t heard all of the criticism around him over the years. He has openly spoken about not enjoying playing the villain role. He has also embraced it, though. Young knows that, just like the expectation for wins, it comes with the territory of being among the best in the league.

Next. Trae Young wants to win more. Trae Young gets honest about career: ‘There’s more out there’. dark