Throughout NBA history, there may be no greater power couple than Shaq and Kobe. At the height of their powers, they dominated the league with an iron first, winning three-straight Championships and capturing the awe of millions worldwide.
Off the floor, however, and the dynamic was much different. It’s no secret that the two had problems back then, and it eventually led to their split in 2004.
Speaking on TheCoachesNetwork Podcast, O’Neal went into further detail about his relationship with Bryant, and noted he they were still able to find success amid major differences.
“I was playing with a younger version of myself. Somebody that had the same mentality. A lot of times guys worry about titles instead of worrying about certain things. We were both about whose team it is, who’s the best player on the team? We had a job to do… [indiscernible] won three championships in a row.”
When asked if he would go back and change something if he could, his response was clear:
“If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. People think, ‘oh you didn’t get along’, I know we didn’t get along’ but we respected each other. That’s all you need. When you have respect for each other, nothing else matters… Were we best friends? Nope. Were we best friends on the court? Yup.”
You don’t have to be best friends to be teammates. Kobe and Shaq were so good and had such immense respect for the game and for each other, that they were able to focus on basketball and find common ground with the Lakers.
And while it’s unfortunate that the two never got to finish out their careers together, even getting to witness their reign at all is something we should all be appreciative of.
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