The Shaq/Kobe era of the Lakers — particularly the demise of that era — is the stuff of legend. It was two massive egos, and the third massive ego — Phil Jackson — could only keep them on the same page for so long.
Shaquille O’Neal owned the locker room — the veterans sided with him, which meant Jackson had to side with him. Kobe Bryant was dynamic, driven, combative, and even by Shaq’s own admission later the best player in the league. They three-peated as NBA champions despite the fact the two stars simply didn’t like each other. When things started to spin out of control in the 2003-04 season, it quickly became a tornado that ripped through the franchise.
Kobe is going on The Big Podcast with Shaq, which will be released on Monday, but the clips let out on Wednesday showed two more mature men who look back at their youth with some regret. This quote from Kobe summed it up best (hat tip Bleacher Report):
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 s—t, I was an idiot when I was a kid. 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.
I think a lot of us have some regrets about how we treated people when we were younger and more reckless. It’s just few people have done it on such a big stage in such a public way. For those of us who love the drama of the NBA, it wouldn’t have been the same without that era.
Here are some other segments from the podcast.