Shaquille O’Neal set his opponent off into a tizzy. This time, the reasons did not involve O’Neal unleashing his unmatched strength as he powered his way inside for a devastating slam dunk. Instead, it involved an unprompted O’Neal setting off a sports debate on how the best all-time Lakers and Bulls teams would square off in a game.
O’Neal imagined the Lakers would have too much dazzling passing (Magic Johnson), too many unstoppable sky hooks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), too much prolific scoring (Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor) and too much brute force (himself) for any team to stop them. Even if the Bulls fielded a lineup featuring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Derrick Rose, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant, O’Neal offered the outcome would prove as lopsided as a forgettable game against a lopsided opponent.
“We would beat em by fifty,” O’Neal wrote on his Instagram page. “What you think. Let me know and don’t hold back.”
Pippen became one of those people who did not hold back.
“Sorry @shaq but I don’t get caught up in hypotheticals,” Pippen wrote on his Instagram page. “All I know is we won 6 titles, twice the amount you claimed while in LA…”
The debate did not just stop on ring counts.
O’Neal poked fun at how Pippen was Jordan’s sidekick. O’Neal even argued that Bulls role players, such as Steve Kerr and Ron Harper, played a larger role in Chicago’s title runs than Pippen. O’Neal then shared a clip of his memorable Game 7 alley-opp from Bryant that secured the Lakers’ 2000 Western Conference Finals against Portland, citing it as proof that Pippen could do little without Jordan by his side.
The trash talk continued.
Pippen brought up O’Neal’s terrible free throw shooting. Pippen then posted pictures of O’Neal standing along other star teammates, including Bryant, Anfernee Hardaway, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and LeBron James, all evidence that Pippen suggested O’Neal had remained a sidekick during his entire 19-year NBA career.
No rebuttal yet from Shaq. But as he had proven on the court, never had O’Neal backed down from any altercation.