Shaquille O'Neal-Shannon Sharpe beef reaches diss track level. Here's how we got here

LEFT: Former US basketball player Shaquille O'Neal poses for photographers upon his arrival for the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, USA, 24 June 2019. RIGHT: Former NFL football player and current sports analyst Shannon Sharpe poses at a special screening of the Netflix documentary film "The Redeem Team," Sept. 22, 2022, at Netflix Tudum Theater in Los Angeles.
Shaquille O'Neal, left, and Shannon Sharpe have a feud that started with O'Neal's interview with Nikola Jokic. O'Neal told Jokic that he didn't deserve the NBA MVP award, and Sharpe later said Shaq was jealous. (Etienne Lauren /EPA-EFE/REX; Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

In the pantheon of celebrity feuds, Shaquille O'Neal versus Shannon Sharpe isn't exactly Kendrick Lamar versus Drake.

But it might be getting into that territory. Why? Because Shaq just released a diss track.

And what's a good beef without a rap release to commemorate it?

Here's how we got to this point.

How it started

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the first half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series
Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was named the NBA's MVP for the third time in four years on Wednesday. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

O'Neal is considered one of the greatest big men in NBA history. He won four NBA championships — three with Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002); one with Dwyane Wade, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat (2006), and was the Finals MVP for all three L.A. title runs.

O'Neal was named the league MVP for the 1999-2000 season — the only time in his career that honor was bestowed upon him — and finished as the runner-up in MVP voting twice, for his 1994-95 season with the Orlando Magic and his 2004-05 season with the Heat.

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O'Neal, now 52, is an analyst on TNT's "Inside the NBA." On Wednesday night's show, Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic was announced as the MVP for the third time in four years. After reading a number of Jokic's stats from the season — 26.4 points per game (10th in the league), 12.4 rebounds (fourth), nine assists (third), 25 triple-doubles (second) — host Ernie Johnson asked O'Neal for his thoughts.

Shaq immediately voiced his displeasure with how the voting turned out, stating he thought the award should have gone to Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

"I don't like to rain on people's parade, but I'm not happy with this one," O'Neal said. "Congratulations to Joker, you are the best big man in the league, but ... I thought Shai Alexander deserved it."

O'Neal referred to Gilgeous-Alexander as a "stat stuffer" and was particularly impressed with the guard's 51 games with 30 or more points. Shaq said he felt bad for Gilgeous-Alexander and knows how he must feel because "I thought I was robbed two or three times."

“It goes to the most valuable player in the league. That was me," O'Neal said while arguing his point to his fellow analysts. "Most valuable player in the league, that’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.”

Moments later, Jokic appeared on the show remotely. O'Neal began talking to the newly crowned MVP 50 seconds into the interview.

“Joker, as the president of the Big Man alliance, you are the vice president of the Big Man alliance, you know I love you. The best player in the league, I wanna congratulate you," O'Neal said. "But I want you to hear it from me first, I thought that SGA should’ve been the MVP. That’s no disrespect to you, but congratulations.”

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Jokic wore a serious expression while responding.

“Thank you, Shaq," he said. "We don’t judge people here, so that’s fine. It’s your opinion."

Jokic then broke into a laugh and held up his hand. "I’m joking,” he said.

O'Neal laughed too. “Hey, all good," he said. "I love you, I love your brothers. One thing we always gonna do is keep it real with each other. Congratulations,”

How Sharpe got involved

Shannon Sharpe shouts during the first half of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
Shannon Sharpe coaches during the NBA All-Star celebrity game on Feb. 16 in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Sharpe is a Hall of Fame tight end who won three Super Bowls — two with the Denver Broncos and one with the Baltimore Ravens — during his 14-year NFL career and went into broadcasting after retiring from football in 2003.

On Thursday's episode of the "Nightcap" podcast he hosts with former NFL player Chad Johnson and former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, Sharpe suggested that O'Neal had been acting out of jealousy the previous night.

“I think a part of Shaq, he might not ever admit this, but Shaq see these guys win these MVPs and [is] a little envious," Sharpe said. "I understand that Shaq got four titles and he has three Finals MVPs, but Shaq know deep down. We should be having the discussion — for G.O.A.T., Shaq's name is never brought up in the discussion.

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"Now we bring his name up with big mans — Wilt [Chamberlain], [Bill] Russell and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] — and rightfully so. But we’re never gonna see another guy Shaq’s size with his athleticism that was as dominant as him. And he robbed himself, because he didn’t take it serious enough. Did he take it serious? Not nearly as serious as he should have. Shaq should have five MVPs. Shaq should have seven titles. And he sees a guy like Nikola Jokic that’s not as dominant as him and he gets three [MVPs] in four years, and people are talking about him."

The back and forth

Shaquille O'Neal sits in a throne as his Orlando Magic jersey is retired Feb. 13 at Kia Center.
Shaquille O'Neal sits in a throne as his Orlando Magic jersey is retired Feb. 13 at Kia Center. (Kevin Kolczynski / Associated Press)

Shaq took to Instagram late Thursday night and posted a lengthy response to Sharpe. Some of the highlights:

— "you took me sticking up for @shai as jealousy?? shows how smart you are and how you say anything to get clicks. so here’s some click bait for you. if you ain’t ranked in the top ten in your profession , then you can’t speak on Me."

— "me jealous lol sounds like you jealous."

— "u don’t kno my work ethic. but according [to you] i work less than you but im worth more than you. make it make sense."

— "i have it, you don’t, not in my profession. and your goat debate , never wanted to be the goat i wanted to be who you should greet me as THE MOST DOMINANT EVER."

Sharpe took his next turn on Friday's episode of "Nightcap."

“I’ve never professed that I was as great as Shaq," Sharpe said. "But what I will say, I got what I got because I worked my ass off. Now Shaq has been the one to say it, that he didn’t work as hard, that he didn’t train as hard, he didn’t eat as well as he should have. Shaq is the one that anytime anyone wins an MVP, he talks about how he should’ve been the MVP over Steve Nash."

Read more: Shannon Sharpe gets into heated argument with Ja Morant and others at Lakers game

Sharpe went on to say that he is fine with not being considered the best tight end ever because he knows he did everything he could to be the best he could be — and the eight-time Pro Bowl selection feels O'Neal can't say the same thing about himself.

“Shaq knows deep down. He can take all the shots. Yeah, you got more money. Yeah, you're more famous than me. Yeah, you're more well-known. You're gonna have way more money than I ever had. But nobody will ever say that I was lazy or I cheated myself. That’s all I got for you, big boy. I ain’t got nothing else for you. I ain’t here to argue with you, I’m not here to debate with you."

But Shaq had something else for Unc.

The last word?

Shaquille O'Neal performs during his pre-Super Bowl event Feb. 10, 2023, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Shaquille O'Neal performs during his pre-Super Bowl event Feb. 10, 2023, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / Rick Scuteri/invision/Associated Press)

O'Neal dropped his diss track toward Sharpe — or at least part of it — Friday on Instagram. The track — which cuts off at the 1-minute 30-second mark — doesn't deliver anything nearly as scathing as Drake and Lamar have been dishing out toward each other.

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But O'Neal is no stranger to taking shots while rapping. He did it to Bryant in 2008, after Bryant and the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the Finals.

“You know how I be. Last week Kobe couldn’t do without me,” O’Neal rapped at a New York nightclub.

In 2017, he put out a LaVar Ball diss track.

Seven years later, Shaq went after Sharpe.

It starts with a bunch of soundbites of Sharpe talking about how much having only one MVP award bothers O'Neal. Then Shaq comes in with a rap, with lines like "Shannon Sharpe, man, you’re way beneath me" ... "Your whole demeanor is faker than new rapper beefy" ... "You’re soft — before you get fly, you rather tweet me" ... and "You got ‘em calling me Rocky the way I RiRi."

(Sounds like an ASAP Rocky-Rihanna reference.)

O'Neal writes in the comments that his track is a remix of a rap released by boxer Ryan Garcia following his upset win over Devin Haney last month. Shaq also gives a bunch of other shoutouts before indicating he's done with the Sharpe beef.

"love yall , now i’m done with this," O'Neal wrote. "i’ll b at the bahamas crib if anyone needs me."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.