The Los Angeles Lakers of the from the early 2000s were the NBA team of the decade, winning 5 NBA titles in ten years. However, the million-dollar question is how many championships they would have won if Lakers stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant could have been on the same page during their time in Los Angeles.
Bryant was recently a guest on the All The Smoke Podcast with hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. Barnes asked Bryant if he and Shaq were on the same page connected mentally. How many realistically do you feel like you could have won?
Kobe Bryant: Ummm… San Antonio was tough.
Stephen Jackson: I was a part of that team! We stopped the four-peat
KB: “They were tough, so when the playoffs came around, it wasn’t like Shaq, and I weren’t on the same page. When the playoffs came around, we were always on the same page. We just got beat.
KB: You know what I’m saying? The Bigger question should be, ‘How many would we have won if the Spurs weren’t for the Spurs? Because we probably would have run the table for a decade.
Stephen Jackson: Tim Duncan! He was killing it. He was by himself that year.
KB: He was lights out. So, the talent, the coaching….. everything in San Antonio was kind of a perfect storm. And so if they weren’t in the picture, we probably would have run ten in a row.
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Phil Jackson Weighed- in on the Shaq-Kobe Feud
During a March 14, 2018, interview with Liesl Niesen of KSL.com, former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson shared that Kobe thought Shaq didn’t care enough about the game of basketball.
“The reason Kobe was unhappy with Shaq (O’Neal) was (because of) his drive,” the coach commented when asked about the Kobe and Shaq feud. “Kobe believed Shaq didn’t care enough about the game.”
A lot of Kobe’s unhappiness with ‘The Diesel’ stems from his lack of dedication to being in tip-top shape to start the season. According to Clutch points
Kobe and Shaq sat down for a one on one interview in February of 2018, and during the chat, the duo discussed their first fight in practice. It was during the lockout season in 1998-99, and players and NBA officials shorten the season to just 50 games. The Lakers were being in a pickup game at Southwest College in Los Angeles, when things went south quick, according to Kobe.
“You kept saying ‘Yeah, take that little b—-. Take that little b—-,’ ” Bryant said. “I’m looking around, ‘Oh, he’s f—ing talking to me.’ Right? I said ‘Well hold on, ain’t going to be too many more of those ‘little b——-.’ And what’d you say? ‘Well, whatchu gonna do about it? Whatchu gonna do about it?’
“The next thing I knew, I saw a big hand coming this way, and I remember going this way [opposite direction]. And I remember throwing some lollipop s—. Olden Polynice came to [incomprehensible word]. And then they just kinda broke us apart.”
Shaq would later admit to Bryant that he was tired from taking a beating in the paint from opposing players and didn’t come in training camp in shape because he knew he had someone that would be in the gym ten hours a day.