Skip to main content

Kobe Bryant On If Shaquille O'Neal Had A Good Work Ethic Like Him: "I Would've Had 12 F***ing Rings."

Kobe Bryant On If Shaquille O'Neal Had A Good Work Ethic Like Him: "I Would've Had 12 F***ing Rings."

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal ran the league for 3 years from 2000 to 2002, winning three championships in three seasons, a feat that no team has been able to repeat since then. The one-two punch was unstoppable, with Shaq dominating the paint and Bryant taking care of scoring and defense from the outside. There was a point when it looked like no team would be able to beat them and Shaq would even like a Winning Time season about them, but as with everything good, it had to come to an end at one point. 

Bryant and O'Neal had their differences, which came to a head in 2004 after they lost in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons and Shaq went to the Miami Heat. Both would go on to win titles later in their careers, the big man won with the Heat in 2006 and Kobe won two in a row with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. But there was always the question of what might have been if things hadn't gone sour between the duo. 

Bryant talked about Shaq's work ethic in an interview with Patrick Bet-David, talking about how if the big man had been more committed, he would have managed to get 12 championships. 

(starts at 22:58 minutes)

Patrick Bet-David: "Technical question here, who would Shaq be if he had your work ethic?"

Kobe Bryant: "He'd be the greatest of all time. He'd be the first to tell you that. This guy was a force like I had never seen. It was crazy. Guy that size, generally guys that size are a little timid. They don't wanna be tall, they don't wanna be big. He did not care. He was mean, he was nasty, he was competitive, he was vindictive. I wish he was in the gym, I would have had f***ing 12 rings."

Patrick Bet-David: "If he had your work ethic?"

Kobe Bryant: "My God, yeah. Wouldn't even be close."

Some fans agreed with what Kobe said, while others questioned if the duo would have been able to sustain their relationship considering that both wanted to be the main man on the team. 

"This is cap. If Shaq worked that hard, Kobe would have never been seen as anything but a sidekick and we saw how much that drove him crazy already."

"That’s not true, Kobe was not a good teammate when he was not number 1."

"Nothing against Shaq. I think he was one of the best big men in the league but imagine if Kobe and Tim Duncan were teammates."

"I believe it. Hands down would have won another 2."

"They would have won if they could've sorted their egos out."

"Shaq with the Mamba mentality would have been the GOAT."

"The league wouldn't have stood a chance."

"Respectfully, Kobe couldn't have achieved his legacy if Shaq had stayed that dominant and been with the Lakers for the rest of his career."

Fans will always wonder about what could have been, but at the end of the day, both Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant retired as two of the best to ever do it. The fact that NBA fans were able to witness them playing alongside one another in their prime is a privilege and has provided a generation with some of their greatest basketball memories.