Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bean Bryant didn't always see eye-to-eye. In fact, in the years leading up to their split, they infamously butted heads, making way for what was, at the time, one of the league's most intriguing storylines.
And while may see their differences as a serious flaw, they always found a way to make things work on the court. In a recent appearance on "All The Smoke" podcast, Shaq explained why.
“You know how it is as basketball players. We don’t always get along. But if the respect is there, you could never be beaten. You all know him, he was an alpha. You all know me, I was an alpha. We didn’t always agree on things, but when it comes time to compete on the court, I think the fact that we always competed with each other made us even more unstoppable."
O'Neal would go on to describe how the desire to out-do each other only made them better players in the end...
“Because I’m always on the stats. ‘Oh damn, you got 25, and I only got 15? There’s something wrong with that picture’. So we would always compete with each other. And we were able to win three out of four. And we did the Laker interview, and we talked, we had a good time. The last time I saw him was when he announced he was going to be playing the last game… And what’d he do? Went out and got 60.”
They certainly had an interesting arrangement, and it worked wonders for a time. In their prime, Shaq and Kobe won three straight titles in what was one of the most dominant eras in Laker history.
Had they stayed together, they likely would have won even more (an idea that Shaq completely agrees with).
Unfortunately, there's no way to confirm that scenario. Alas, we'll just have to stick to letting it play out in our imagination.