Kobe Bryant and Shaq forged a legacy as one of the most dominant duos in NBA history, winning three Championships in eight years with the Lakers.
Unfortunately, their partnership fell apart due to egos that got too large to co-exist.
In a nasty and toxic breakup, Bryant and Shaq went their separate ways in an attempt to prove they did not need each other to win.
In a chat with The Players' Tribune, Bryant spoke on the importance of his Championship wins in '09 and 10.
“Here is the thing. I get chastised a lot for being selfish, saying we just got to fit into a team, it’s about winning championships,” said Bryant on the Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles podcast. “I get it, I’m doing it, right? We won three straight. I got it. But I also knew that when my career’s over they’re going to chastise me for the same thing: ‘Oh well, you’re only great because you played with Shaq.’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, hold up. You can’t have it both ways, bro?’ You know?
“So it was important for me and Shaq to go separate ways because I didn’t want people to use that against me — they still do — but it was important that I win championships without him.
“And you get a glimpse of what I could have done individually had I not played with him. See what I’m saying? So that was a big driving factor. It was like, ‘Hold on, don’t get it fucked up now.’ Like, I’m doing this thing, I’m playing with Shaq, it’s like — take [Michael Jordan] put him with Wilt [Chamberlain] — Shaq was a force of nature, right? So you’ve kind of take a back seat.”
Up until their breakup, Bryant's legacy was intertwined with Shaq's. Even now, many credit Bryant's first 3 Championships to O'Neal, claiming that Kobe was nothing more than a "side piece" at the time.
But by winning his final two with Gasol, Fisher, and the bunch, he proved he could lead a team and win on his own. That is what ultimately secured his legacy as one of the greatest All-Time.