Shaquille O’Neal recalls heated beef with Dikembe Mutombo in NBA finals: “I’m knocking his motherf*cking teeth out”

Shaquille O’Neal is known for his kindness and playful character, but there was a different side to him when he dealt with business on the court. ‘The Big Diesel’ was a force of nature that not many wanted to go up against, with the only exception being Dikembe Mutombo.

Mutombo himself was an imposing figure with his 7’2″ frame. The Congolese not only amazed the fans with his immaculate blocking prowess but also picked up a few enemies along the way, and one such foe was none other than Shaquille O’Neal.

Shaquille O’Neal talks on heated feud with Dikembe Mutombo

Recently in an episode of “The Big Podcast” Shaq opened up about an incident that provoked him during his NBA days. The 4-time NBA Champion controlled and influenced the actions of his opponents no matter whom he was up against. Facing him alone was a huge challenge for the rivals. But someone had dared to say that he was enough to confront the 7-footer alone.

The Lakers faced the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 NBA finals. The Sixers center Dikembe Mutombo, who was traded from the Atlanta Hawks in the midseason, was the man who challenged O’Neal. Before the game, Mutombo said in an interview that he has faith in his defensive skills and will be able to face Shaq alone, according to the Lakers legend.

In the podcast Shaq mentioned that he was not focusing on Mutombo but the biggest star in the team Allen Iverson. The 15-time NBA All-Star continued, “Uncle Jerome (Shaq’s bodyguard) comes in and said, ‘Yo, Mutombo said he’s the Defensive Player of the Year, he don’t need no double team.’ Don’t disrespect me by saying you going to play me 1-one-1.”

During the game, when he observed that he was not defended by two players, he lost it and thought, “I’m knocking his motherf** teeth out of his head.” The Lakers had won five games over the Sixers, with Shaq dominating the games with an average of 33 points and ultimately winning their second Championship title in a row during the three-peat.

How good was Dikembe Mutombo throughout his NBA career?

Dikembe Mutombo was one of those hidden gems in the NBA that not many talk about. Known for being one of the best defenders, he used to take on some of the big names in the sport alone.

Mutombo was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1991, where he came up with his unique move. After every block he made, he used to wag his finger, indicating that it’s not easy to score when he’s on the floor. Winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year four times, he has cemented his name among the best, and his other records supported it.

Being one of the best shot blockers, he has a record of 3,289 blocked shots, just behind the all-time highest 3,800 of Hakeem Olajuwon. Just like the latter, he started playing soccer as a goalkeeper, which helped him in his NBA career to block shots.

In his 18-season-long service, he played for multiple franchises and averaged 2.8 blocks and 10.3 rebounds per game. His first two teams, the Nuggets and Hawks, honored him by retiring the legend’s jersey no. 55. He announced his retirement after the 2008–09 season and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Shalini Ray

297 articles

Shalini is a passionate NBA follower who got hooked to the game thanks to Stephen Curry's sharpshooting show. While indulging in the sport of basketball solely within the confines of the school court, she keeps herself as close as possible to the game through all the latest happenings in the world of NBA.


Leave a Comment