President Obama's ribbing of a Boston Celtics guard left the player devastated and unable to sink a jump shot, says no less an authority than Shaquille O'Neal.
In "Shaq Uncut," an upcoming book authored with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, O'Neal recounts a visit the team made to a Boston museum, where the commander-in-chief and sometimes hoopster made guard Rajon Rondo the butt of a joke.
"The President turns to [Celtics guard] Ray [Allen], points at Rondo, and says, 'Hey, Ray, why don’t you teach this kid how to shoot?' Everyone starts laughing," O'Neal writes in an excerpt obtained by CSNNE.com.
Well, not everyone. Rondo is particularly sensitive, explains the big man. O'Neal and teammate Kevin Garnett instantly knew Rondo was hurt by the quip, even if he did try to laugh it off.
"Dissed by the President, even though I’m sure Obama didn’t mean any harm," O'Neal wrote. "Rondo smiled and went along with all of it, but KG told me he could see it in his eyes. It bothered Rondo. It killed him.
"I think it was a real jolt to hear the outside perception of a basketball fan who happens to be the President of the United States," O'Neal continued. "It messed with his mind. I’m sure of it."
The next day, Rondo couldn't sink a shot, and soon quit trying. He went into a late-season slump that some fans say hurt the team's playoff run. However, even when he wasn't shooting, Rondo was a force: He said a team record with 20 assists in a game in the first round series against the New York Knicks.