Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most gregarious athletes in all of sports.
Media members, teammates and other NBA players have all raved about what great a guy Shaq is. He’s funny, charming, clever and just about everyone loves him.
Everyone except Kobe Bryant.
Their public feud has been legendary. They won three Championships together and formed one of the best one-two punches the NBA has ever seen. They also detested one another, and that mutual hatred eventually led to the Lakers collapse.
Once Shaq left Los Angeles the two seemed to squash their beef. They said the right things, didn’t publicly squabble anymore, and even hugged at an All Star game and shared an MVP together.
This month Shaq is releasing a book, ( Shaq Uncut: My Story ) and it appears the feud is back on. Reported by Deadspin.com, Shaq once again blasts Kobe, basically calling him a spoiled, whiny brat.
My first Lakers season we had a couple of rookies, and we hazed them pretty badly. We were dogging them out constantly. It was ‘Go get my bags, go get me something to eat.’ It was kind of a rite of passage in the NBA that a lot of teams do, but we probably went a little too far with it. One of the rookies — Derek Fisher — just took it. The other rookie — Kobe Bryant — ratted us out to Jerry West.
Kobe’s heard his fair share of Shaq criticism, so I’m sure he can live with him telling this story. It’s Shaq’s assertions about Kobe’s Colorado rape trial that probably will sting the most.
Kobe stands up and goes face-to-face with me and says, ‘You always said you’re my big brother, you’d do anything for me, and then this Colorado thing happens and you never even called me.’ I did call him…. So here we are now, and we find out he really was hurt that we didn’t stand behind him. That was something new. I didn’t think he gave a rat’s ass about us either way. ‘Well, I thought you’d publicly support me, at least,’ Kobe said. ‘You’re supposed to be my friend.’
In this feud, it’s easy to take Shaq’s side. Shaq’s the fun-loving one. Kobe’s the one that seems entitled. Shaq seems like one of the guys. Kobe seems like the spoiled rich kid we all hated as kids.
But for Shaq to once again open up the feud says something about him as well. This feud always makes headlines. Every time they seem to have put it behind them, one opens the can of worms again.During their Laker days, their spats came often. Shaq thought Kobe was a selfish player who only cared about himself. Kobe thought Shaq lacked work ethic, and that his propensity for showing up to training camp and practices out of shape was hurting the Lakers chances at Championships.
Kobe was right about this by the way. Shaq was one of the most dominant forces the game has ever seen. But he could have been one of the five best players ever if he had Kobe’s work ethic. Shaq’s also been known to get jealous, which he was towards the end of his Lakers stint when Kobe was getting more attention. There’s a reason he’s feuded with almost every elite guard he’s played with (‘Penny’ Hardaway, Kobe, Dwyane Wade).
Occasionally, their bickering has caused serious real-life problems. It came out that Kobe told police during his rape case that he should’ve just paid off his women, like Shaq. Shaq is now divorced.
It’s always been rumored that Kobe forced the Lakers hand to get rid of Shaq and focus the franchise around him. Although the Lakers have routinely denied this, based on their relationship, it doesn’t seem totally implausible.
After their Laker days, the fight continued. There was the Shaq “Tell me how my ### tastes” rap video. When Kobe won his fifth title, he bragged to media members that he had “just one more than Shaq … you can take that to the bank.”
It’s petty and somewhat childish that this feud continues to go on. This is probably the greatest teammate feud of all time when you consider the greatness of the players involved and that it’s been going on for over 10 years now. When your feud has its own Wikipedia page, that’s saying something.
When Shaq’s book hits bookshelves, Kobe will be asked to respond to Shaq’s allegations. He’ll probably say something along the lines of it doesn’t bother him. Then in a year or two, he might come up with a dig at Shaq and get the feud going again.
Shaq and Kobe should be remembered for the duo that brought the Lakers back to the glory days. They should be thought of as Magic and Kareem 2.0
Instead, they’ll be remembered for bickering, in-house fighting and TMZ headlines.