You know when people say, “We’ll look back 10 years from now and laugh about this?” Well, in the case of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, that’s exactly how everything has played out.
Shaq and Kobe won three NBA championships together with the Los Angeles Lakers, but a rift emerged between the superstars, in large because of each their massive egos. The locker room divide eventually led to O’Neal’s departure for L.A., which both future Hall of Famers now regret, especially Kobe.
“Here’s the thing, though. When you say it at the time you actually mean it and then when you get older you have more perspective and you’re like holy (expletive), I was an idiot when I was a kid,” Bryant recently said on an episode of O’Neal’s “The Big Podcast With Shaq” that will air Monday, according to Bleacher Report’s Lakers Nation blog. “To me, the most important thing was really just keep your mouth shut. You don’t need to go to the press with stuff.
“You keep it internal and we have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would’ve been avoided, but it did kind of create this whirlwind around us as a team with myself and Shaq and the press and the media that just put so much pressure on us as an organization.”
Shaq expressed similar sentiments on the podcast and even said the Lakers’ dynamic duo missed out on an opportunity to pad its résumé by separating too early. The tandem obviously did some special things in Los Angeles, but the internal rivalry — Bryant likened it to a hypothetical scenario in which Michael Jordan emerged on a team already spearheaded by Wilt Chamberlain — proved problematic.
“(I) definitely didn’t want to leave L.A. A lot of stuff was said out of the heat of the moment,” O’Neal said. “I guarantee I don’t remember a lot of stuff that they said because I changed my thought process of, ‘You know what, we won three out of four, what the hell are you all talking about, this is not really even a story.’ ”
It’s fun to imagine what could’ve been if Shaq and Kobe stayed together. Then again, their feud and tumultuous breakup made for riveting theater, so it’s hard to complain too much.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@NYDNSports
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