Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant couldn’t work together just a little more than a decade ago, and with that the core of a Lakers’ team that had won three titles in a row went supernova in a very public fashion. All because of the oversized egos of those two men.
A decade later, they get along fine and look back at themselves from that era as immature kids. Kobe knows he was a little too headstrong and pushy, Shaq knows he should have worked harder.
That’s the core of what Shaq and Kobe get into on The Big Podcast with Shaq, which drops Monday. We’ve brought you other quotes from that, but Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times got a listen and had more details in a story Sunday.
“I just want people to know that I don’t hate you, I know you don’t hate me. I call it today a ‘work beef,’ is what we had,” said O’Neal, who retired after the 2010-11 season. “I was young, you was young. But then as I look at it, we won three [championships] out of four so I don’t really think a lot was done wrong. So I just wanted to clear the air and let everybody know that, no, I don’t hate you. We had a lot of disagreements, we had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us both.”
Kobe said that the beefs were one thing, but both of them taking their fight to the press made things worse. People’s positions became entrenched, and feelings were hurt. Kobe also said he was young and headstrong and was not going to back down — even if it meant fighting Shaq.
“In ’99, I think Shaq realized that this kid is really competitive and he’s a little crazy,” said Bryant, who is heading into what could be his final NBA season. “And I realized that I probably had a couple of screws loose because I nearly got into a fistfight and I actually was willing to get into a fight with this man. I went home and I was like, ‘Dude, I’ve either got to be the dumbest or the most courageous kid on the face of the Earth.'”
Shaq also said that Phil Jackson — despite the fact he later wrote Kobe didn’t listen and was hard to coach — was fair.
“He was really fair,” O’Neal said. “He only got fed up one time and he came in and said, ‘Both of ya’ll need to cut it out.’ And that’s the only thing he said.”
I look forward to hearing the entire podcast. It will be two guys looking back at their youth and shaking their heads, which is something we can all relate to.