Lakers PG Reveals What Sparked Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant’s Feud

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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were two of the best to ever put on a Lakers uniform.

They also didn’t always see eye-to-eye during their time in Los Angeles.

Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I discussed it with John Celestand, a member of the Lakers’ 1999-2000 NBA Championship team.

While on the podcast, I asked Celestand if he felt that the media overhyped Kobe and Shaq’s feud. “I think Shaq likes to say that it was marketing,they were doing it on purpose, but I was there.” Celestand told me.

“No. They – it was more Shaq didn’t really like Kobe at that point. I don’t think Kobe at that point – now years later when I’m gone and Kobe’s calling him fat, now that’s different. I don’t know about that. But when I was there, I don’t think Kobe was as concerned with Shaq as Shaq was concerned with Kobe. Because Kobe at that time was starting to arrive. Guards get more fanfare than big guys. They’re more relatable. But Shaq was still the best player on the team at that point. He was our best player. It wasn’t close, right? So, the beef was more with their two different styles. You know, Kobe’s reading a book, Kobe’s coming to practice, Kobe’s serious, Kobe wants you to work your ass off at everything at every moment. Shaq can kind of show up and dominate people off of sheer talent and ability because he was just physically more dominant than everyone. So he can jog through practice, he could loaf, and still dominate in practice and dominate in the game. And he was taking so much punishment during the season, that he had to kind of sometimes loaf in practice. Kobe didn’t understand that. He never understood that. Now, Kobe also didn’t understand what it’s like to be 7 feet and be hacked all the time, you know? So, Kobe never understood what it’s like run around with 300 pounds either. So, there was a disconnect there.”

The 30th pick by the Lakers in the 1999 NBA Draft, John Celestand was a rookie when the Lakers won their championship during the 1999-2000 season. He added more context to Kobe and Shaq. “Kobe was more serious about the game, as where Shaq was a more carefree fun-loving dude,” he told Scoop B Radio.

“Rapping, movies, goofing around in the locker room…Kobe was ALWAYS serious and I don’t know if Shaq liked that. Shaq wanted you to hang out with us. Be a part of the team. Kobe’s like, ‘Naahh. This is a job. We trying to be the best. You hanging out all the time, you’re not taking it seriously.’ Shaq’s like, ‘You’re not taking camaraderie seriously. You’re not taking being part of a team seriously. It’s all about you.’ … it was that thing going back and forth and it was amazing to me that they could make it work on the court and have such a – and be so angry with each other off the court. So, were they fighting everyday? No. But were there some tense times and words back and forth in the locker room and film sessions? Yeah. A lot. I think as Shaq got older, I think they both made some mistakes in their relationship and they both apologized to each other for it. But me being there and watching it, I always thought that Shaq was more the instigator of a lot of it. Where a lot of people think it was… I always thought it was more Shaq. You know, Shaq was never a good free throw shooter. We had to give the ball to Kobe at the end of the game. That’s just the way it was. Not that Kobe wasn’t better, but they could foul Shaq. Down the stretch, Kobe was our closer and I’m not quite sure Shaq liked that. But that was how it had to be, you know?”