Skip to main content

Shaquille O’Neal is a big man with an even bigger personality. While that reality helped make him an iconic piece of the NBA landscape and a media juggernaut, it can also get him into trouble on occasion. Take his long-running beef with Dwight Howard as an example of that.

During their time on the hardwood, the two big men didn’t see eye-to-eye. While most of the offenses were pretty silly — Howard dressed as Superman, someone who Shaq always identified with, during the 2008 Slam Dunk contest and has shown off an imitation of O’Neal on occasion — the Diesel seemed to take things pretty seriously. The pair has seemed to somewhat bury the hatchet on a few occasions, but things always seem to heat back up.

Take the most recent issue: Taiwanese basketball.

Dwight Howard left the NBA and headed to Taiwan, prompting Shaq to throw some shade

No matter how talented an athlete is, Father Time will eventually tap them on the shoulder. Dwight Howard might not be ready to hang up his sneakers, but he is experiencing that reality firsthand.

After somewhat redeeming himself with the LA Lakers, the Atlanta native decided that the disappointing 2021-22 season was the end of his time in the Association. In November 2022, though, Dwight re-entered the professional basketball fray, albeit in Taiwan. He joined the Taoyuan Leopards and posted some eye-watering numbers in his debut.

During an episode of his podcast, Shaquille O’Neal addressed that performance. When Spice Adams suggested that Howard was “killing it over in Taiwan,” the legendary center simply laughed.

“You want me to give empathy, or you want me to have facts,” Shaq responded. “OK, facts is you should never be complimented for being a good father because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Right? He’s supposed to have 30 points playing against dudes [who are 5-foot-8]. Get the golf clap. Great job. Listen. Listen. Listen. This league reminds me of the Lifetime Fitness League, every Saturday when I go work out on Saturdays.”

Eventually, O’Neal did send some regards Howard’s way. It was abundantly clear, though, that he wasn’t being genuine.

“Great job, Dwight,” he deadpanned. “I’m proud of you.”

Howard fired back at Shaquille O’Neal on Instagram

Dwight Howard may be on the opposite side of the world, but word can still travel pretty fast. The center didn’t just hear what Shaq had to say, but he felt compelled to respond.

During an Instagram Live that’s been preserved on Youtube, Howard addressed “the difference between jealousy and hating.” While he insisted that he usually keeps these sort of discussions to his inner circle, the latest verbal jabs crossed the line.

This message is for Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal, whatever your name is. Shaquille. First thing I wanna say is you gotta stop hating, brother. You gotta stop hating. I ain’t never in my life came at you about your basketball career, your family, your kids, or anything of the sort. Cause there’s no need to. The world is too big to hate on another man. So I have never in my life hated on you as a man, a basketball player, anything like that. Have I joked about? Have I mimicked your voice? Have I mimicked what I see on TV? Everybody do that. Comedians do that all the time. And I do that all the time. I do that to everybody. But I do not hate on people. I know I show love to everyone in the world. So stop hating.

Dwight Howard

While you can take issue with Howard’s thesis — one man’s comedy is another’s hating — he wasn’t done there. He then addressed O’Neal’s most recent comments directly.

“I saw a video of you talking about me playing basketball in Taiwan, and I’m playing at the Lifetime Fitness League. Do not disrespect my teammates and this league and these people in Taiwan like that. That is highly disrespectful, and it’s hating. And you too old to be hating. You too big to be hating. You supposed to be Superman. The original Superman. Shaquille O’Neal. The original Superman is hating? Huh? The OG Superman is hating? Come on, man.

“We know what you did in basketball. We know how much money you got. You talk about it. We know how much stores you got. We know everything you have done, Shaquille O’Neal. Stop hating. There’s no need to hate. You done everything in life that everyone wished that they could do. They want to be Superman. They want to be you. They have wanted to be you. Until they seeing now how much you be hating on people for no reason.”

Shaquille O'Neal (L) and Dwight Howard (R) during their respective NBA careers.
Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard have both left the NBA, but their beef is still alive. | Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT

Howard then cited Javale McGee as someone who was affected by Shaq’s public comments before drawing another conclusion about the legendary big man.

“You are too old and too wise, cause I know you, to be hating,” Dwight added. “And I don’t even think that’s hating. I think that’s jealousy. And you have no need to be jealous of anybody. Everybody that you’ve hated on and been jealous of and talked about, they have loved you at some point.”

While I’m not here to make claims about the Diesel’s motivations — I obviously only know him through the things he does in public — Howard’s theory does make some sense. We’ve heard Shaq talk about needing to prove himself to guys like Patrick Ewing. We know holds regrets about certain parts of his life. Anyone who’s ever watched Inside the NBA knows he can be a bit defensive at times. It’s certainly not impossible that there’s an underlying thread of jealousy, insecurity, or some other negative emotion running through there.

And while O’Neal has never hated on me, I can understand where Dwight is coming from. Shaq was my favorite player growing up. I had a Sports Illustrated for Kids poster of him on my wall and wore 34 for at least part of my elementary school basketball career. And, as a fan, even I can’t help but cringe when I see him bickering on national TV or calling out someone like Dwight Howard, who, at this point, is just living his own life.

So, at the risk of having the big man come for me, too, I’ll end on this note. I’m with Dwight Howard here. It’s time for Shaquille O’Neal to let the beef go.