Shaquille O'Neal is a smart, self-aware man. He knows his audience at all times. Take a recent crowd of American Express cardholders in New York City.

While speaking on a panel with Doris Burke and Alonzo Mourning, Shaq asked the audience a simple, one-word question.

"Knicks?" he started.

The crowd cheered.

Then Shaq reached into his bag of tricks.

"Phil Jackson?" he asked.

The crowd booed.

"Phil, it wasn't me, coach. It was them," Shaq said with a laugh.

Of courses, Jackson, the Knicks president, coached O'Neal for five seasons with the Lakers, and the two remain close. In fact, at the 2016 New York edition of American Express "Teamed Up," Shaq's counterpart on the panel was Phil Jackson. But that was a year ago, before Jackson spent the 2016-17 season pressuring Carmelo Anthony to approve a trade out of New York. Knicks fans have soured in their opinion of Jackson the past 12 months.

Shaq knows that, and the comedian in him used that to his advantage Tuesday, the same day it was reported the Knicks would not rule out trading Kristaps Porzingis.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.
 

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