During his 18-year NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal established himself as one of the best players the league has ever seen. With four championships, three Finals MVPs, 15 All Star appearances, an MVP Award in 2000 and a host of other achievements, O’Neal’s case as one of the most dominant big men ever remains secure.
Aside from his brilliance on the court, Shaq is also known for his larger than life personality off it. He is known to speak his mind during his NBA career and even after it as an analyst for TNT, and has feuded with past and current players. While his feud with Kobe Bryant during their time with the Los Angeles Lakers is perhaps the most known, he has also had beef with other players, like former Orlando Magic teammate Penny Hardaway.
While Shaquille O’Neal has also fired shots at guards like Bryant, Hardaway, Steve Nash, and Damian Lillard, he seems to have a particularly disdain for big men, and has feuded with about as many centers as the nicknames that he has given himself over the years. The latest one is Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, who signed a lucrative five-year, $205 million maximum extension during the offseason, making him a target of Shaq’s teasing in interviews and on social media.
Gobert joins the list of several big men who have been on the receiving end of O’Neal’s verbal jabs. From starting caliber NBA center to legends to future greats, here are all the times Shaq took shots at other big men:
1. Rudy Gobert
O’Neal first feuded with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year after he criticized his massive contract extension in an appearance on CBS Sports’ “All Things Covered” podcast and said that he should serve as an inspiration while praising his agent for negotiating high-paying deal.
“I’m not gonna hate, but this should be an inspiration to all the little kids out there,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “You average 11 points in the NBA, you can get $200 million.”
Gobert has responded and said that there is no beef between him and O’Neal, but that hasn’t stopped the former first overall pick from continuing to rib the Frenchman.
"I would had 45 pts 16 rebound ten missed free throws in three quarters. He woulda had 11 pts four rebounds and fouled out in 3 quarters. I'm a G"
– Shaq goes full savage on Rudy Gobert pic.twitter.com/hiBEdEjrzT
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 4, 2021
2. Anthony Davis
While Shaq has said that Bryant would be proud of LeBron James and Anthony Davis for leading the Lakers to their first championship in a decade, he has previously said that he believes the 6-foot-10 big man is “too little” to guard him back when he still played for the New Orleans Pelicans.
More recently, Shaquille O’Neal has taken exception to Davis being called a “big man,” believing that the seven-time All Star should be considered as a power forward and that big men and power forwards shouldn’t be lumped together. But unlike his other feuds, he seems to have move past this one, even wishing Davis well and hoping he can win more titles with the Lakers.
3. Bill Walton
O’Neal’s feud with the two-time champion big man is a long one, dating back to at least 2008, when Walton reportedly complained of his arrogance, which he naturally didn’t appreciate. Not even his retirement could prevent the former LSU big man from reigniting their feud, as he recently said on an episode of his podcast that he doesn’t consider Walton a Hall of Famer despite a resume that includes two titles, an MVP, a Finals MVP award, and two All Star appearances.
“For example, I don’t think Bill Walton is a Hall of Famer,” Shaquille O’Neal said back in November. “Then somebody mentioned it’s not the NBA Hall of Fame; it’s the Basketball Hall of Fame. So, based on that, yeah, he’s in. Because he did work in high school, he won in college, and he won one in the NBA.”
Even though he struggled with injuries for most of his NBA career, there’s no doubt Walton’s resume is enough for his name to be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, even if O’Nel thinks otherwise.
4. Charles Barkley
What TNT’s Inside the NBA sometimes lacks in in-depth analysis, it more than makes up for in entertainment, with O’Neal and his co-host Charles Barkley providing more than their fair share of it. As two of the league’s best big men during the 1990s, they have had their share of on-court exchanges, but their rivalry has mellowed and has been more friendly in recent years. Still, that hasn’t prevented them from taking jabs at each other from time to time, including Chuck calling O’Neal a “fat ass” and saying that he was carried by Bryant and Dwyane Wade to his championships.
Shaq: "I speak from not being a great defensive player, but having championship experience. I know what the hell I'm talking about."
Chuck: "Don't forget about Kobe and Dwyane Wade carrying your fat ass." pic.twitter.com/mbbNfRfQqA
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) August 14, 2020
Viewers of Inside the NBA are probably already used to this type of banter from Shaq and Sir Charles, and as long as these two are in the same studio, one can expect some good natured exchanges between the two Hall of Fame big men.
5. Tim Duncan
This feud is less of a personal animosity between Shaq and The Big Fundamental and more of a criticism of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty and his sentiment of the label of ‘big man’ that he also had with Davis. A few years back, in an episode of his podcast, Shaquille O’Neal said that like Davis, he didn’t consider Tim Duncan a big man because he is a power forward, and reiterated his belief that only centers can be called as big men.
Shaq has also said that the Spurs’ 1999 title should come with an asterisk because it happened during a lockout shortened season, and that he considers Duncan to be a four-time champion, which would give them the same number of titles. But his feud with the longtime Spurs big man doesn’t appear to be personal, unlike his beef with a couple of big men who are still in the league.
6. JaVale McGee
McGee is a three-time champion with the Golden State Warriors and the Lakers, but doesn’t have the accomplishments of the other big men that Shaq has feuded with over the years. But this particular beef got so heated that at one point, O’Neal’s own mother had to step in and tell her son to stop it.
This feud started when Shaquille O’Neal typically featured McGee on his Shaqtin’ A Fool segment on TNT, which featured players’ lowlights. The show continued to air McGee’s bloopers and Shaq even ribbed the then-Warriors big man on Twitter, which sparked a lengthy exchange, with McGee’s Warriors teammates like Kevin Durant coming to his defense. Fortunately, both parties appear to have moved on, although O’Neal is still fixated on McGee’s former front court partner with the Lakers.
7. Dwight Howard
Outside of his feud with Bryant, O’Neal’s beef with Dwight Howard is probably his most famous one. Both big men were drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick and were seen as franchise cornerstones and took the Magic to the Finals. Howard even adopted Shaq’s Superman nickname, which the latter didn’t appreciate.
The comparisons continued when Howard joined the Lakers after spending his first few seasons with the Magic. O’Neal’s criticism of Howard has mostly focused on the fact that he hasn’t won a championship as he bounced from one team to another. But even when Dwight finally won a title with the Lakers, Shaq was back at it, criticizing him for celebrating too much.
While his other feuds have thawed in recent years, his beef with Howard, with whom Shaquille O’Neal shares many similarities, has shown no signs of ending any time soon.