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The Star of SNL's "Inside the NBA" Sketch Is Kevin Hart's Shaquille O'Neal Impression

O'Neal responded to his friend Kevin Hart's impression, which found the Hart to Heart Host walking on stilts. 

By Samantha Vincenty

Shaquille O'Neal is many things: NBA legend, sports commentator, Kazaam star, sometime rapper, and all-around cultural icon, for starters. It's why so many people have showcased their Shaq impression on Saturday Night Live, from then-cast members Jay Pharoah and Tracy Morgan to Hosts Charles Barkley and, on December 16, 2017, Kevin Hart

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

SNL's "Inside the NBA" sketch starred Hart as Shaquille O'Neal, and the Hart to Heart Host was joined by Season 43 cast members Alex Moffat as Ernie Johnson, Chris Redd as Kenny Smith, and Kenan Thompson as Charles Barkley. Hart seemed to have the time of his life poking fun at his IRL friend O'Neal (and certainly not for the first time: Here's Hart absolutely roasting O'Neal on Conan in 2011).

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Hart plays O'Neal as a confused and perpetually-winded caricature who has a creative relationship with the English language. A visual punchline comes at the end of the sketch, when the 5'2" actor and comedian emerges from behind the TNT anchor desk on stilts to match O'Neal's 7'1" height. 

"Look at you! Tall body with little arms — you look like the letter F came to life," Thompson's Charles Barkley told Hart's O'Neal.

Kevin Hart during a sketch on SNL in 2017

Kevin Hart played Shaq in SNL's "Inside the NBA" 

With Hart tapped for the parody, SNL put its own spin on Shaq's pearls of wisdom.

"Shaq can't ride no horse —  feet don't touch the ground," Hart's O'Neal tells the Inside the NBA panel. "But can't beat a dead horse, 'cause dead horses tell no tales 'cause they're horses, who lost their tails."

"Shaq, you got to get it together, man," Thompson's Barkley tells him. "I think you're the only basketball player whose brain is aged like a football player."

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Kevin Hart during a sketch on SNL in 2017

In another animal-related revelation, Shaq opines, "Hey, well, let me tell you something: every dog has its day. But it's nighttime, no time for dogs. Dogs are asleep! So it's cat time. Cats come out at night. Freaks come out at night. Shaq a freak."

Hart delivers one of his silliest lines after his confused co-hosts try to explain their conversation about the Alabama Senate race, replying, "Hey, I love the Senate: I write an e-mail, hit the send button, boom, Sent-it."

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After more back-and-forth with Thompson's Barkley — who at one point asks him, "How do you even do endorsements? Do they just put a pack of Icy Hot in your hand and then spread peanut butter on the roof of your mouth and dub over the words later?" — Hart's O'Neal gets up to challenge him to some ball, and the reveal is priceless. 

Watch SNL's "Inside the NBA" sketch above.

Shaq reacted to Kevin Hart's SNL impression

Given O'Neal and Hart's long history of ribbing each other (and O'Neal's history of picking Hart up) it may come as little surprise that he kept his sense of humor about the impression. 

"You a fool for this one," O'Neal captioned the clip when he reshared it on Instagram, adding the hashtags #laughatmypain #senseofhumor #laughatyourself.