Shaquille O’Neal Risked a Humiliating Punishment if the Phoenix Suns Knock off the Golden State Warriors

Almost right from the start, the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns have been neck and neck in the race to be the NBA’s top team. Just over the halfway point, the 34-9 Suns hold a three-game lead over the 31-12 Warriors. But even if Phoenix secures the top seed in the West, former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is so confident in Golden State making the Finals, he’s willing to risk an utterly humiliating punishment if he’s wrong.

The Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors are the two best teams in the NBA

Both the Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz deserve recognition for the seasons they’re having. However, the Suns and Warriors are certainly the two best teams the league has to offer.

More often than not, an elite team has superior defense. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Golden State and Phoenix listed one and two in defensive rating. In addition, both clubs have an average margin of victory of 7.9 points, the highest in the league. Only the Utah Jazz at 7.5 come close.

The Suns, who came two wins short of their first ever NBA championship last July, are first in field-goal percentage and fifth in 3-point percentage, while also second and third in opponent field-goal and 3-point percentage. Meanwhile, the Warriors are eighth in field-goal percentage and ninth from 3-point land, but they have the league’s lowest opponent field-goal percentage.

There’s also plenty of starpower on each of these clubs. For Golden State, Stephen Curry is in the mix to win his third MVP award. Joining him are Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, two other former All-Stars and members of the Warriors’ three-ring dynasty of the 2010s. But don’t sleep on Phoenix, as its guard duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker is in the mix as the best backcourt in the NBA.

Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t believe the Suns can beat the Warriors

The Warriors are currently second place in the Western Conference. Additionally, they’re in the midst of a skid in which they’ve dropped five of their last seven games. Nevertheless, Shaq is still all in on the Dubs.

O’Neal discussed Golden State on The Big Podcast with Shaq, and let’s just say he has no doubts about Curry and company finishing as the top dog.

“Golden State will win the championship this year, I’m guaranteeing it,” Shaq boldy proclaimed. “Not only have they won, but they have won multiple times. So they’ve shut the naysayers up. … nobody has a chance.”

Nobody, you say? O’Neal’s comment drew some pushback from co-host Nischelle Turner. After Turner disagreed and said the Suns were the team to beat, Shaq immediately offered up a bet. One that will be forever change the way you look at the big man if he loses.

“Let’s do something crazy and embarrassing. … if the Suns beat Golden State, I will walk two blocks with ‘Suns’ written on my a**. And I will post it live on Instagram. I’ll walk two blocks.”

Shaquille O’Neal

One of the best parts about O’Neal’s ridiculous wager is how adamant he is against the Warriors losing to one of his old teams. The Big Shaqtus, as he was known during his time in Phoenix, spent one-and-a-half seasons with the Suns between 2008 and 2009, where he made his 15th and final All-Star Game.

We have already seen three head-to-head matchups between the Suns and Warriors

As Pacific Division rivals, Phoenix and Golden State are no strangers to one another during the regular season. Fortunately, fans have already witnessed a three-game appetizer of what very well might be this year’s Western Conference Final.

On November 30, the Suns improved their record to 18-3 after edging the Warriors at home 104-96. The game was noteworthy in that Booker suffered a hamstring injury in the first half, which kept him out for the next seven games. Meanwhile, Curry scored just 12 points on 4-of-21 shooting.

Golden State didn’t have to wait long before exacting its revenge. Three nights after losing their third game of the season, the Warriors walloped the Suns 118-96 in San Francisco. Curry responded to his awful shooting in the first matchup by scoring 23 points, whereas the Booker-less Suns had just one player (Deandre Ayton) score more than 12 points.

The third and final meeting came on Christmas Day. With key role players Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Damion Lee out in health and safety protocols, Golden State edged out Phoenix 116-107 on the road. Curry scored 33 points while Otto Porter chipped in 19. Paul led the Suns with 21 points and eight assists, whereas Booker scored just 13 points in 40 minutes.

The fourth and final regular-season matchup is scheduled for March 30 at Golden State. By then, both teams will have playoff spots locked up and could potentially battle for the one seed. But there’s a good chance they’ll meet again later this year with a trip to the Finals on the line. If that’s the case, expect Shaq to be heavily invested.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

RELATED: Shaquille O’Neal Fires off a Bold Proclamation on Stephen Curry’s 3-Point Record