We loved pretty much every single thing about the “Shaq impromptu attack on Kobe Bryant during a freestyle session in an NYC club” story, but there are so many brilliant individual nuggets that we had to break it down in order to soak it all in. First, of course, is (1) the video itself. Shaq sets it off with a minor Kobe slight — “you know how I be / last week Kobe couldn’t do without me,” a reference to Bryant’s Lakers losing to a far-superior Boston Celtics squad in the NBA finals — before meandering into name-checking Diddy, Biggie, and his own sizable wealth. And about a minute in, the floodgates open: “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes!” The crowd goes wild!
Shaq’s toothy grin stretches, and then he gets bitter — “I’m a horse / Kobe ratted me out, that’s why I’m getting divorced” — before the legitimately clever kicker: “I love ’em, I don’t leave ’em / I got a vasectomy, now I can’t breed ’em.” All of which is only a prelude to the most sublime moment (2) a group sing-along to the “chorus.” Everybody now: “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes!”
Then there’s (3) Shaq’s “explanation” to ESPN.com yesterday: “That is what MCs do,” he said. “They freestyle when called upon. I’m totally cool with Kobe. No issue at all.” Mmm-hmm. We’ll see if he has any issues as soon as he surfaces from your ass. Then Shaq goes on to (4) plug his MC CV: “And by the way, don’t forget, six albums, two platinum, two gold. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a funny freestyler. Check the NBA DVD when I was rapping” — over the Cheers theme song, awesomely enough — “about Vlade Divac during my first championship run.” (Bonus fallout: (5) The ESPN headline stone-facedly declaring “O’Neal Plays Down Impact of His Rap Dissing Bryant.”)
And, finally (6), our own imagination, running wild as we lay in bed last night. We’d be deluding ourselves to ever imagine a Kobe counterattack: Despite his documented past, Bryant’s far too much of a basketball automaton now to have a shot at a charisma-off with the clownish O’Neal. But how about, in classic rap-battle conventions, sending his minions after the big man? Perhaps backup point guard Jordan Farmar, or the Slovenian sharpshooter Sasha Vujacic? “First off, fuck Steve Nash and the clique you claim / West Side when we ride come equipped with game!” We’ll be waiting. —Amos Barshad