How many nights have you spent lying awake in your bed, contemplating whether Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant was the better rapper? A hundred? A thousand? A million? (Probably not a million because then you would be more than 2,700 years old and therefore probably a vampire, which means you only listen to early Three Six Mafia and Spaceghost Purrp.) At this point in all of our lives, it’s probably impossible to know the exact number, though it’s easy to know that it is a lot.

Well thankfully, we finally have the answer, as one of rap’s greatest practitioners has weighed in on this very important topic. From the Los Angeles Times:

According to rapper Nas, who has released eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums since 1994, one of basketball stars might be a bit more glib than the other.

When asked who is a better rapper, Nas said, “Shaq got that.”

“Shaq got a classic hip-hop album,” Nas said. “I don’t think Kobe got a chance to put out an album.”

Nas makes a good point here — not the one about Shaq having a classic hip-hop album, because haha no — but the fact that Kobe never officially released an album (“Visions” got shelved) gives Shaq the win by default. Nas might have a tin ear for beats, but at least he understands logic. Plus, when you remember that Nas’ lyrical skills are virtually unparalleled when he’s on, you realize that he’s as good of a judge as any, even if his definition of a classic record is terribly generous.

One guy who isn’t quite so well-respected in the rap game had Kobe’s back though. That man, of course, is Cedric Ceballos, who should know a thing or two about being a rapping Laker.

However, former Laker Cedric Ceballos said that at the beginning of the 1996-97 season, he, O’Neal, Bryant and Corie Blount used to have freestyle battles on the plane and Bryant often came out on top.

“The stuff that he put out, he was real commercial,” Ceballos said of Bryant’s rapping. “It wasn’t the real Kobe.” [...]

“He’s got a Wu-Tang Clan-like style,” Ceballos said.

“Kobe’s a nice guy; he doesn’t like to let everybody know that, but he’s got some mean lyrics.”

I don’t care too much about Cedric Ceballos bigging up Kobe Bryant’s flow because I can’t even picture Kobe as a Cappadonna or U-God type talent, let alone Ghostface or Raekwon. But I am VERY interested in hearing tapes of the freestyle battles between Kobe, Shaq, Ceballos and Corie Blount (who, based on name alone, I am going to assume is the best rapper of the four). That would be so great.

It’s just too bad this happened back in the mid-90′s, when only Zack Morris had a cellphone, because if it happened today we’d have video online for sure. Why couldn’t technology have advanced just a little bit quicker? Drats. Our only hope is that we catch wind of a current team that does something similar. My money’s on the Thunder, but I’ll be happy finding about any NBA team that hosts cyphers on road trips.