The two centers never showed much hesitation in talking smack or making bold declarations. Divac openly vented about the allegedly favorable treatment Shaq got from referees during the 2002 Western Conference Finals, especially in Game 6. Vlade and the Kings still had the chance to advance to the NBA Finals on their home floor in Game 7, but Divac instead found himself featured in a humorous jingle created by The Diesel.
Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and the Lakers beat the Kings on their home floor in the 2002 Western Conference Finals
Vlade Divac and the Sacramento Kings appeared to have an advantage over Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers in Game 7, a home-court advantage.
The officiating, while controversial, appeared to favor the home team for the majority of the series. That was good news for the Kings as they hosted LA at Arco Arena for the winner-take-all series finale.
However, Shaq and Kobe Bryant would not let the Lakers lose.
The Kings fought valiantly, battling LA into overtime. But O’Neal and Bryant proved to be too much. Shaq scored 35 points with 13 rebounds and four blocks. His overpowering presence in the paint resulted in Divac fouling out for the second straight game. Meanwhile, Bryant battled through a poor shooting night to score 30 points and dish out seven assists.
Kobe said before the game that “cowbells never blocked my jump shot.” Sacramento made things difficult on LA, but the Lakers showed steely determination and refused to bow out playing in front of a raucous Sacramento crowd.
The loss was heartbreaking for the Kings, and things got worse for Divac when O’Neal decided to make him the butt of another Shaq joke.
Shaq made a jingle to insult Divac and the Kings
Shaquille O’Neal never had rap beef during his short career as an emcee. He did, however, have something of a diss track for Vlade Divac and the Kings.
The Diesel dubbed himself over the Cheers theme song to take shots and Divac and the Kings after LA’s win in Game 7. Shaq brought up Divac’s assertion that the Kings would be favored on their home court. He also alluded to the Kings being a small-market franchise with little national recognition.
One might have imagined that the bad blood between Shaq and Vlade would cease to exist after their playing careers ended. But that wasn’t the case.
The Diesel and Vlade Divac have spewed more venom through the years
Shaquille O’Neal and Vlade Divac have become inexorably linked in NBA history.
Divac was traded from the Lakers to the Charlotte Hornets in the deal that brought LA Kobe Bryant back in 1996. That move also cleared necessary cap space to sign Shaq in free agency. The two centers went on to have numerous battles on the floor.
But Divac and O’Neal have since added more spice to the individual rivalry. Vlade said (h/t Bleacher Report) that Shaq “wasn’t talented, he was just strong” during a 2015 interview. Shaq said in 2018 that Divac was “terrible.”
The two have traded barbs for years. Shaq is perhaps more creative than Vlade, though an older O’Neal might have to rely on his Icy Hot partnership to keep the pipes loose in case he needs to hit Divac with another diss track.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.