Shaquille O’Neal accuses Kenny Smith of starting his beef with Dwight Howard
Episode 2 of “The Inside Story,” the documentary chronicling the rise of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” airs Friday night at 9 p.m. ET. Whereas the premiere episode mostly focused on host and longtime network broadcaster Ernie Johnson, the second showing spotlights Kenny “The Jet” Smith. The former Houston Rockets guard takes a shot from Shaquille O’Neal, with him claiming Smith “started the beef” between him and Dwight Howard.
O’Neal took it back to the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest when Howard wowed the crowd with the “Superman” dunk. Shaq accuses Smith of gassing Howard up and really making him believe he was the new Man of Steel.
“There’s only one Superman to ever come through this league and you know his name. It’s me." 😅😂
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 5, 2021
This obviously irked “The Diesel,” who has a Superman tattoo on his arm. It was one of the many monikers Shaquille O’Neal took on during his long and successful playing career.
Howard put on a Superman cape during the contest and also rocked a shirt with a big s to go with it. That dunk itself was the highlight of one of the greatest Dunk Contest performances ever and only built on Howard’s resume. At the time, Dwight was considered the best center in the NBA.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year kept the gag going the entire night, even bringing out a prop phone booth for his Dunk Contest performance the following year. Naturally, O’Neal saw fit to exchange barbs with Howard over the course of the next decade.
It is no surprise that Shaq pins the beef on Smith. “The Jet” has some of the best Dunk Contest reactions in history, notably “Let’s go home!” during Vince Carter’s legendary 2000 showing. He had a visceral reaction to Howard’s performance, as well.
Realistically, though, it’s about O’Neal’s sensitivity to someone stealing his Superman moniker.