On Tuesday, US Counter-Strike players Justin "just9n" Ortiz and Samuel "SileNt" Portillo both announced on Twitter that their team, NRG, had removed them from the starting line-up and put both players on the backup roster.
It's not the kind of news that turns a lot of heads. NRG is among the lower half of North America's top 10 CS:GO teams, and that ranking doesn't amount to much in an international context.
But the team is partly owned by former NBA superstar Shaquille "Shaq" O'Neal, who is co-hosting the Inside the NBA post-game show on the TNT network in the US. And TNT is part of the same media conglomorate as TBS, whose massive CS:GO league Eleague kicked off this week.
The first televised game of the league is happening early Saturday morning European time, and the Inside the NBA show seized upon the benching of just9n and SileNt3m as an opportunity for a little cross promotion after last night's NBA game between Oakland City Thunder and Golden State Warriors.
"Just-nine-N and Silent have been benched, why?" asked host Ernie Johnson of Shaq. "You're part owner, why were they benched?"
"First of all, I'm not a micro manager. I don't have all the documents in front of me," said Shaq. "I'm not concerned. [They] have to step up. You wanna get paid, you wanna make it to the next level, you gotta step up".
At that point, Kenny Smith butted in on the conversation, saying "I bet if that guy walked in right now who got benched, you wouldn't know who he was".
"Apparently snitches get stitches, I'm not revealing any team information to you", Shaq said when Johnson asked whether the players had violated team rules.
Despite the Inside the NBA crew joking around about the roster change, the move does put NRG in a difficult spot. They're playing the Eleague in less than two weeks, and haven't announced who'll be replacing just9n and SileNt yet. You can watch the clip from Inside the NBA on YouTube.
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