Shaq taunts Charles Barkley with a Diet Coke Photo credit: Inside the NBA

Shaquille O’Neal attempted to troll Charles Barkley’s love of Diet Coke Thursday night, but he subsequently cheated his deal with Pepsi.

After a two-week break for the holidays, Inside the NBA returned with all the trimmings and hijinks fans come to expect when watching Shaq, Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith for six hours on a Thursday night. But the crew also returned with their New Year’s resolutions, which for Barkley, meant the decision to give up his beloved Diet Coke.

As the show came to a close around 1:30am ET early Friday morning, Barkley begrudged drinking a bottle of water, complaining, “this stuff, it don’t even taste like anything.” Shaq proceeded to walk over to the other side of the studio, where he found an ice bucket stocked with fresh Diet Cokes and began to drink one with his arm around Barkley. Smith and Johnson joined Shaq in trolling Barkley by partaking in a late-night Diet Coke.

But as Barkley sat no set, anxiously trying to resist the urge of having a soda, Shaq’s agent was undoubtedly sweating somewhere as his client repeatedly talked up and savored a Diet Coke on national TV. Shaq was a stalwart spokesperson for Pepsi in the ‘90s, and after a nearly 25 years apart, the duo reunited just over a month ago for a new ad campaign.

“It’s really good,” the Pepsi spokesperson said of the Diet Coke he was taunting Barkley with. About ten seconds later, just as Inside the NBA was set to go dark for the night, Shaq held up his “really good” can of Diet Coke and said, “Shout out to Pepsi and Starry!”

But it may have been too late to be a company man. America already watched one of Pepsi’s literal biggest spokespeople enjoy a Diet Coke.

Surely, Shaq doesn’t come cheap for Pepsi. And certainly not as cheap as it was for Coke to get a video of Shaq savoring one of their diet sodas on national television.

[Inside the NBA]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to