124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Shaq tried to speak Russian with Nikola Jokic who is, in fact, Serbian

January 15, 2021

If you’ve been watching Inside the NBA in recent weeks, you’ve probably noticed that Shaq’s new schtick is trying to speak a word or two of a foreign player’s native language when interviewing them following the game. Last week, for instance, he just about managed to croak out a few syllables of Slovene (or Spanish, honestly not sure what he was going for) with Luka Doncic. Good job, Big Rosetta Stone!

On Thursday night, however, Shaq’s great linguistic experiment hit its first snag when interviewing Nikola Jokic after the Denver Nuggets’ 114-104 over the Golden State Warriors. Wrapping up the interview, Shaq tries on a couple different pronunciations of what The Loop’s foreign language experts believe to be “spasibo,” the Russian word for “thank you.” The only problem? Jokic is, in fact, Serbian.

Tough scene, but in Shaq’s defense it wasn’t the language that posed the greatest hurdle this time around. It was his geopolitical understanding of Eastern Europe and the former vestiges of the USSR’s so-called Eastern Bloc, which actually never included Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia. Also on trial was Shaq’s core basketball knowledge, outing himself as completely clueless about the origins of the NBA’s most versatile offensive center on the same night that Houston Rockets power forward Christian Wood called him a “casual” on live TV. Not a great night at the office for the Shaqtus, to say the least.

But if we know Shaq like we think we do, he’ll pick himself up, dust himself off, and start buffing up on his Greek before the Bucks play the Mavs tonight.