Shannon Sharpe-Shaquille O’Neal feud escalates after clapback from NFL legend

Mike Battaglino
6 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Shannon Sharpe has fired back at Shaquille O’Neal in a biting back-and-forth following O’Neal’s interview of newly crowned NBA MVP Nikola Jokic.

The former Los Angeles Lakers great told Jokic that he thought the Denver Nuggets star should not have won his most recent MVP award, saying Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder was deserving of the honor instead.

Sharpe then said O’Neal was envious of Jokic because the former Lakers big man has just one regular season MVP to his name, coming in the 1999-00 campaign.

“We’re never gonna see another guy Shaq’s size with his athleticism that was as dominant as him,” Sharpe said. “Shaq shoulda had five MVPs. He sees a guy like Nikola Jokic that’s not as dominant as him and gets three in four years.

“But see, when you historically great, they talk about you as great basketball player, the G.O.A.T. And Shaq is never brought up. And I think a part of him is envious of that.”

Asked if O’Neal truly is not brought up in the G.O.A.T. conversation, Sharpe stood by his observation.

“Yeah, it’s hard for me to put somebody in the G.O.A.T. conversation with one MVP, regular season,” Sharpe said.

“… So we gonna take somebody with one regular season MVP and put him in front of people that got three, that got four, that got five. If Shaq woulda had — if he’d have had my work ethic, he’d have had 40,000 points.”

The Basketball Hall of Famer then took to Instagram to fire back at the Pro Football Hall of Famer.


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A post shared by DR. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq)

The beef continued with Sharpe further questioning O’Neal’s work ethic and how he may not have developed his ability to the fullest, like the former NFL tight end believes he did with his own.

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

O’Neal is considered one of the most powerful players to ever grace the NBA but did at times look like he wasn’t playing to his full potential. Despite that, he still managed to play in the league for 19 seasons, averaging 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game during the regular season.

“Now, I woulda felt some type of way if I’d a got these numbers and I half-a—- it,” Sharpe said. “But I never half-a—- it.

“Am I a top-100 player? No. Am I the equivalent as a football player as Shaq was as a basketball player? No. But what I did do is that I maximized that.

“And my question if Shaq and…my question is, do you believe that you gave everything you possibly could in basketball? Did you train the way you should have? Did you eat the way you should have? That just goes to show you how great you was.”

In addition to his single MVP award, O’Neal was runner-up in the voting twice, third twice and fourth two other times.

“He’s the most dominant big man in the history of the game, and he got one MVP,” Sharpe said of O’Neal.

This season, Jokic was voted the winner for the third time in the past four seasons, with some observers also believing he deserved it for the 2022-23 campaign as well, when Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers was the winner.

Sharpe acknowledged that Gilgeous-Alexander had a great year this season but mentioned that Jokic did finish top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding and assists. He added that the difference between Oklahoma City getting the top seed in the Western Conference came down to a tiebreaker against Denver after each team posted the same regular season record.

O’Neal did win MVP of the NBA Finals three times for the Lakers and has four NBA championship rings, including one with the Miami Heat.

“Shaq, if you took what I said as a slight, okay, I can get it,” Sharpe said. “… I said, ‘I’m not the equivalent basketball player.’ But all I can do is maximize my ability.

“Shaq know 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 have. But nobody will ever say that I was lazy or I cheated myself.”

The 2024 NBA Playoffs still have a long way to go, which means there is still plenty of time for Sharpe and O’Neal to debate this particular topic or find any number of new ones to discuss.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.