For obvious reasons, almost every team in the NBA gives special treatment to their stars, especially if we are talking about arguably the most dominant duo of their era- the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant.
Shaq never cared
In the early 2000s, the Shaq-Kobe tandem brought the “Showtime” back to LA, winning three NBA championships. Needless to say, O’Neal and Bryant enjoyed the perks of being the brightest stars of the storied franchise at the time. In fact, Shaq even admitted that he and Kobe had “extra powers” back then.
While it’s only proper that the pair gets that privilege, it also raised a couple of questions- did the Lakers organization treat Shaq and Kobe equally? And was there ever jealousy between the two celebrated NBA All-Stars?
According to Shaq, there was not a bit of jealousy on his part simply because he never cared about what Kobe got. More importantly, “Diesel” was sure he “can get whatever he wants,” whenever he wanted it.
“Me and [Bryant] him had extra powers… I guess it’s a situation where, like if we are working together, me and you, and you get extra stuff and I get extra stuff, I don’t worry about what you get,” O’Neal told Fair Game in 2019.
“I know I can get what I want,” he pointed out. “He got to do whatever he want, I got to do whatever I want. That’s just the name of the game.”
There should always be respect
While it’s safe to say that O’Neal and Bryant never had any issues in terms of unique benefits, they were also aware that co-existing as big-name players in one team was no walk in the park. What’s the inevitable? - A clash of titans and big egos.
However, Shaq said that the key to limiting those conflicts was to maintain “respect,” something he and Kobe were able to do during their time in LA.
“We always respected each other,” Shaq said of his relationship with Bryant as teammates. “You got two alpha males going at it. You are not always going to get along. The key component is when you are on the team, in a relationship when you have business partners. One word and that is respect. You don’t have to like the person, but you have to respect them.”
Indeed, some Shaq and Kobe fans still debate about who was better between the two legends. But it’s nice to know that, in reality, the former duo themselves never made a big deal out of it.