Two of the greatest players to ever step on a court, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. These two were on the Los Angeles Lakers together from 1996 to 2004. They were brothers on court. Kobe and Shaq led the Lakers to a three-peat in 2000, 2001 and 2002. They also made a finals appearance in the year 2004.
However, like all brother’s fight, Kobe and Shaq had a rivalry that went on for quite some time. The rivalry began during Shaq’s last season with the Lakers. The feud made the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat and re-signed Kobe Bryant.
Kobe And Shaq: first few years as teammates
The year 1996, Los Angeles Lakers drafted a young boy, Kobe Bryant who went on to become a player the world will remember forever.
At the young age of 18, Bryant was confident with his skills. His confidence was interpreted as arrogance by many teammates as arrogance. Shaq did not like the way Kobe boasted about himself.
In 1997, Kobe played in the NBA summer league to help improve his skills. The first few years Shaq and Kobe did not really cross paths. Kobe was a young boy straight out of High School and Shaq had already achieved greatness by then. it was a relationship of two brothers that had blossomed.
The feud began between Kobe Bryant and Shaq during the three-peat run.
Even though the two of them looked like they had amazing chemistry on the court, Shaq had issues. In a press conference, Shaquille O’ Neal mentioned that he was concerned that Kobe might be a reason the Lakers lose.
According to teammates, Shaq’s hatred for Kobe continued to grow. Shaq even tried to convince the team to turn against Kobe. Kobe did put in efforts to try and play a team game but his efforts were not noticed by Shaq.
In the 2000-01 season, the Lakers went back to back. The celebrations did not last for long. The feud between Kobe and Shaq had properly begun. The two were seen indirectly talking about each other at press conferences. Shaq blamed the losses on Kobe’s selfish nature but according to Kobe, Shaq’s defence had no reason to be affected by his offence. Kobe believed that the Lakers were lacking on the defensive end. Magic Johnson stood by Shaq and said,
Shaq is saying ‘It’s me. I’m the one who has to get into shape, I’m the one who has to be ready for the second half run. I’m the one who has to close the middle down like I did last year.’ … He’s not blaming everybody else.”
The 2001-02 season saw the feud go on the down-low. Not many public statements were passed out. The Lakers were occupied with injuries and other tragedies to be concerned about a feud between Kobe and Shaq. The Lakers still went on to with their third consecutive championship. Shaq also earned his third NBA Finals MVP. The Lakers might have gone three-peat but there was a feud, a big one.
Bryant and Shaq: The final season as teammates
In 2003 Kobe Bryant dealt with rape allegations. During this tough time, Mamba warned that if Shaq tried to stir something up he would not keep quiet. The last season was bad, The Lakers made the Finals but the feud was blowing out of proportion. Phil Jackson fined Kobe for speaking to the press and Brian Shaw learned that Kobe was mad at Shaq for not reaching out during tough times.
The Lakers lost the finals to the Pistons in five games. After this season, the news spread that the Lakers had the intention of trading Shaq and they had already let go of Phil Jackson.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal: The brothers are back
The feud was done, the duo was back to being two brothers who bullied and made fun of each other. In the 2008-09 season, Shaq and Bryant were teammates and they were named All-Star Game co-MVPs. Kobe gave the trophy to Shaq’s son to keep and Kobe led the Lakers to their first championship ever since Shaq left.
in 2009-10 Kobe won yet another championship, In a post-match press conference Kobe pulled a joke on Shaq but it was all in good spirit. Kobe said,
I got one more than Shaq now, and you can take that to the bank.
Shaq is a man of jokes and he was not going to congratulate Kobe without a joke. Shaq went on to say,
Congratulations Kobe, u deserve it. U played great. Enjoy it man enjoy it. I know what ur saying ‘Shaq how my ass taste
In the 2010-11 season, O’Neal retired from basketball and this put an end to the on-court rivalry between mamba and him. In the 2011-12 season, Mamba also passed Shaq on the all-time scoring list and Shaq had only love for his little bro. Shaq was also present the day Kobe played his last ever game in the NBA.
Shaq speaks on Kobe Bryant’s death
The death of the Mamba was a heartbreak for the entire world of basketball. Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were killed in a Helicopter accident in 2020. The NBA took to Twitter to express their emotions and teams even took 24 and 8-second violations to pay their respect to a legend who changed the game of Basketball.
Shaquille O’Neal took to Twitter to express the loss he suffered, he tweeted,
Shaq and Kobe fought as teammates and on-court but they will be forever remembered as two of the greatest ever to play the game.