For the first time since one of the NBA’s most explosive duos ever broke up, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant sat down and publicly spoke about their feud. Kobe Bryant appeared on Shaq’s podcast, “The Big Podcast” set to be released Monday. Even though this all happened over ten years ago, a lot of basketball fans feel like they never got closure for the situation.
Bryant and Shaq were teammates from 1996-2004 in LA and the duo went on to lead the Lakers to three straight NBA titles from 2000-2002. After getting dominated by the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Finals, the duo was disbanded due to Shaq’s request to be traded. The very next day Kobe Bryant signed a 7 year, $136 million deal to stay in LA. Shaq eventually went on to win a title in Miami a couple years later as a member of the Miami Heat, while Bryant went on to add two more titles to his resume later on in the decade alongside, Pau Gasol.
I constantly ask myself this question and I’m absolutely positive I’m not the only one, what would have happened if they could have put their differences to the side for a couple more seasons? Could they have won not five, not six, not seven? Think about it, Shaq still had a couple good years left in him, while Kobe was beginning to hit the peak of his powers. Could this have been the greatest tandem we have ever seen? I feel like they are by far the most explosive tandem this league has ever had the privilege of watching, no disrespect to Scottie and MJ, but these two dudes on the court at the same time were nearly impossible to defend.
You had two different sets of personalities that meshed as well as water and oil do. Both of them were extreme alpha males and wanted to be THE guy in LA. You had Shaq as the playful, joking, just show up to the court and let me dominate guy. While on the other hand you had Bryant who had laser focus and out worked every single guy off the court to make himself the best player he can be. When your two best players can’t get on the same page mentally, you’re going to be in for some trouble. Their chemistry and success on the court is what ultimately made this marriage last for 8 years. If it wasn’t for those championship years halfway through this troubled tenure, I don’t think I’d be writing this article now, as there would have been nothing worthy to speak of.
I could go on and on about the what and why, what could have happened, why this happened, and so on and so forth. I could vehemently debate about which player was wrong, and how both of them should have sucked up their pride and kept on winning titles. All that will be pointless because no matter what, we’ll never get to see them on the court together again. Well, maybe at a YMCA, but you know what I mean. Our last image of them will be walking off the court together as the Pistons celebrated the whooping they just bestowed upon the Lakers. It’s really a shame that’s how I’ll always remember them after all the great things they accomplished together. Hopefully this Podcast will be the last chapter of a book that was never written to its full potential.