by Lang Whitaker

This time of year is historically terrible for NBA fans, at least from a fun point of view. The Draft is about to go down, and all the NBA players have scattered across the Caribbean, taking vacations and slipping under the limelight. Which means nobody is around to start beef or say dumb stuff that we can make fun of.

But as we learned a while ago, never count out Shaquille O’Neal. Maybe you’ve heard by now, but yesterday a video surfaced of Shaquille O’Neal dissing Kobe Bryant during a rap concert. Actually, perhaps “dissing” isn’t a strong enough word: Shaq pretty much lit Kobe up. To me, this is more exciting than Anne Hathaway being single again. (Well, almost.)

Now, granted, Shaq caught Kobe with a sucker punch, considering Kobe and the fam appear to be in Mexico, but still, it was a heckuva punch, a roundhouse that split open Kobe’s cauliflower ear and left blood all over the canvas.

And to me, it is as surprising as it is incendiary. Watch it again.

Shaq’s smiling, having a good time, and at the same time just killing Kobe. I talked to an NBA exec this morning who said, “Shaq upstaged the Olympic announcement yesterday! He is a marketing genius.”

Still, surely Shaq didn’t mean to cause any friction. I figured Shaq was in the club, someone cajoled him into coming on stage, he went for what he knew would be crowd-pleasing material and someone taped it and put it on YouTube.

But surely he had to know, right? Shaq had to know there were cameras or cell phones or whatever out there. If anyone understand this it should be Shaq. So he had to know this was going to turn into what it turned into. Check this stretch of lyrics…

Now that’s the difference between first and last place.
Kobe, [n-word], tell me how my a*s taste.
OK, Kobe, tell me how my a*s taste.
OK, everybody, Kobe, tell me how my a*s taste.
I’m a horse, Kobe ratted me out,
that’s why I’m getting divorced.
He said, Shaq gave a bitch a mil.
I don’t do that, ‘cause my name’s Shaquille.
I love ‘em, I don’t leave ‘em.
I got a vasectomy, now I can’t breed ‘em.
Kobe how my a*s taste?
Everybody, Kobe how my a*s taste?
Yeah, you couldn’t do without me.
Kobe, you can’t do without me.
Kobe, you can’t do without me.
Everybody, Kobe, tell me how my a*s taste.
Yeah, you can’t do without me.
Yeah, you can’t do without me.
Yeah, you can’t do without me.
Everybody: Kobe, tell me how my a*s taste.
Yeah, nothing personal there at all, right?

“I was freestyling,” Shaq told ESPN. “That’s all. It was all done in fun. Nothing serious whatsoever. That is what MC’s do. They freestyle when called upon.”

True, though Shaq isn’t an MC, is he? We all know that Shaq’s always considered himself a rapper. As he told me a year ago, “The albums I did, sh*t, I did six: two platinum, two gold, and two double-wood. (laughs) I had fun.”

Shaq obviously still has some issues with Kobe. Luckily for us he has no qualms about working through them in public. I appreciate what Shaq did just on the basis of so many athletes these days never, ever, ever speak their mind, or at least relate their true feelings in public. They talk a lot, but they don’t say anything. It’s become such an epidemic that Shoals even does a column interpreting what was said and what was meant. At least Shaq cuts through the crap. Like him or hate him, he’s upfront. And that counts for a lot with me.

Now we just need Kobe to release a Soulja Boy-style rebuttal. Or at the very least get back in the studio with Tyra…

Thank you, Brick City in the building.