Kobe, Shaq don’t hate each other anymore
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers are retiring Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey on Tuesday, which had off-the-charts awkwardness potential due to the Big Diesel’s famously rocky relationship with Kobe Bryant. However, Kobe tells Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports that the bad blood between the two is in the past. “It was tough for that relationship to work forever,” Bryant said. “But there was a mutual respect, and that’s why you see us engaging with each other and conversing with each other because we knew what that was about.”
Kobe and Shaq clashed repeatedly during the final years of their time together in Los Angeles. It reached a breaking point in 2004, when Bryant threatened to sign with the Clippers before Shaq was ultimately traded to the Miami Heat and Kobe re-signed.
Their bad blood continued after the trade. Shaq was videotaped in a nightclub shortly after the Lakers’ loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, mocking Kobe’s inability to win a championship without him in a (NSFW) freestyle rap.
Kobe hasn’t forgotten this, and even though he and Shaq have buried the hatchet, the Black Mamba never misses an opportunity to remind his former teammate who has more championships now.
Kobe tells Spears he was never worried about his own future had the Lakers chosen to keep Shaq instead of him in 2004.
Above all else, Kobe wants Lakers fans to remember, despite the bad blood, that they wouldn’t have won three straight titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002 without Shaq.