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NBA Loud - by Rick Gillispie

History of the Shaq-Kobe Feud

The schedule for the 2006-2007 NBA season has been published with the Los Angeles Lakers playing the Miami Heat on Christmas day for the third straight season. Naturally the day that has given birth to rampant consumerism and over indulgence of food with drink, happens to be the most
Kobe: You either love or hate the guy. (Image from Wikipedia)
important date outside the playoffs and all-star games for the league. The NBA mindful of this fact always schedules the best rivalries on this most holiest of dates for television viewership. The biggest current day beef of course is Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, members of the Lakers and the Heat respectively.

In recent years the drama between the two former teammates has cooled off considerably but it is worthy to take note of the background of the Shaq-Kobe feud, because it has been one of the most heated in NBA history.

Hard to believe but Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were not only teammates for six seasons, but managed to win three titles in a row together with the Los Angeles Lakers, whilst being the most dysfunctional duo this side of Shane Warne and his wife Simone.

Shaq started life in the NBA as a member of the Orlando Magic, but never hid his desire to play for the storied Lakers franchise, with the team reciprocating their love by acquiring the Diesel in 1996. That same year the Lakers drafted a then unknown high school phenomenon named Kobe Bryant who would ultimately prove to be one additional alpha-male too many for the Lakers in the next decade.

Shaq has the last laugh by winning a title with Miami. (Image from Wikipedia)
The first few years before legendary coach Phil Jackson came aboard as the final piece in the dysfunctional dynasty the leader of the Lakers was not in dispute – Shaq was the man. However, it was during the late 90’s that Los Angeles with a talented duo in Bryant and O’Neal, were continually frustrated with their inability to win the NBA title. While the Lakers struggled to get over the hump Kobe was developing into an increasingly great basketball player.

In numerous playoff games in the late 90’s when Shaq couldn’t carry the load, or had fouled out, Kobe increasingly took it upon himself to win games for the Lakers and did it with at an almost regular basis.

By the time Phil Jackson came aboard Kobe was as ripe as a first year university student with a centrefold body, but had never been laid. Bryant was gagging for it – the leadership role that is.

Kobe began to increasingly assert himself as the big dog in the kennel, but was continually rebuffed by O’Neal, who would regularly put the upstart kid in his place. Shaq had the edge because he was bigger, more popular with fans and the public – perhaps most important of all, garnering the support of the coach.

The Lakers would win three successive titles from 2000, but speculation about the tense relationship between the two superstars began to surface soon after the first title.

The organisation managed to keep the feud under wraps, with both players playing the part of friends in public, while fighting like Liam and Noel Gallagher away from prying eyes.

Shaq and Kobe’s feud began its climax at the beginning of the 2002 season when the Lakers were off to a terrible start and the big fella was out with a foot injury. While O’Neal was away injured, Bryant began to wonder out loud if it was due to Shaq’s poor work ethic and relative unfitness as to why he was injured. Needless, to say that the Diesel’s response was less than complimentary, resulting in an early exit at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs that year.

The 2003-2004 season was when the proverbial shit really hit the fan
Phil Jackson has returned to the insane asylum known as the Lakers. (Image from Wikipedia)
between the two when it began with Kobe getting arrested for sexual assault, while missing out on training camp due to his injuries. Shaq fired the first salvo when he emphasised the point that the Lakers were his team, that Bryant should shoot less, and that if he was unhappy with his opinions, then he could just fuck off, or sentiments to that effect.

Bryant responded, by suggesting that O’Neal was fat, lazy, while being quick to point the finger at everyone else barring himself. Could you just feel the love?

The Lakers actually went all the way to the Finals that season but were humbled by the Detroit Pistons. It was during this off-season when things began to really disintegrate between the two.

O’Neal began publicly calling Kobe a “clown” and “punk” amongst other labels with his daily tirade towards his younger teammate. Kobe didn’t help matters when recordings of his police interview in regards to his sexual assault case were leaked out to the public with him suggesting that he should have done what Shaq did with women he allegedly cheated with – by paying them up to a $1 million in hush money. This accusation pissed O’Neal off to no end leading to the eventual demise of the Laker dynasty.

Both Shaq and Phil would be chased out of L.A. when the Lakers sided with Kobe. The Diesel would get the last laugh though when he was shipped off to Miami and win a title, while Kobe is still struggling to get anywhere near a championship. Although it must be said, Kobe will get closer with Phil back on board.

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4 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]
1. August 3rd 2006 @ 23:14. Cibbuano Says:
shee... those players are like little children...

I can understand it, though... they both have massive egos...
2. August 5th 2006 @ 07:04. Anonymous Says:
yeah egos and the fact that most pro athletes never really grow up. they are coddled since childhood and have every whim and need attended to by people who kiss ass.
3. August 28th 2006 @ 05:23. Anonymous Says:
Great post and informative to something I didn't know anything about.
I do remember a time when Kobe was touted as the new Jordan, scoring in the late twenties and thirties and looking as athletic and hungry as his Airness.

On that note, what is Jordan up to these days? Anything related to the NBA or just playing golf to possibly have a stab at that sport too?
4. August 29th 2006 @ 09:12. Stanley Says:
anon- kobe was the annointed one and in all honesty he has had a great season that has gone a long way to repair his troubled image.

in jordan news he is now involved with the charlotte bobcats in a front office type role.

and thanks for your kind words.

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