“They couldn’t stand me on that damn team, to be honest with you.” That’s how Dennis Rodman described his brief experience sharing a locker room with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in ‘98/’99. Judging by his comments, Rodman wasn’t a fan of how Shaq and Kobe went about their business as well.
After Michael Jordan retired (for the second time), Rodman didn’t really have a plan. When Dr. Jerry Buss showed up with “eight girls, two limos - like he always does,” to convince Rodman to join the Lakers, he didn’t really take the offer seriously. IBut then, when a chopper showed up the next day to take him to the introductory press conference, The Worm realized dr. Buss was serious.
So why Kobe and Shaq couldn’t stand Dennis? Rodman understood the young stars were “envious of me because they [the Lakers] catered to me so much – coming to the game, going out after the game, having parties, doing this, doing that, hotel this…stuff like that.” But, the results on the court were not bad at all.
To remind you, this was a shortened season after a lockout. The team needed some time to get going and then ripped a ten-game winning streak. But despite all the winning, Kobe and Shaq were constantly complaining. Then Rodman said the most Rodman sentence ever.
“Sh*t you not, I said this ”I gotta take a break, I gotta go to Vegas.” Because, I couldn’t hear that sh*t every day. Every day they bit**in, and bit**in, and bit**in, complaining every day. Kobe and Shaq, Kobe and Shaq, and they’re just bit**in about everything,” Rodman shared.
We know the Shaq and Kobe Lakers were a soap opera in their final year together. But this goes to show there are always signs. From their earliest days together, Kobe and Shaq had a fundamentally different way of approaching basketball greatness, and it caused friction. Rodman found the move from MJ & Pip to Shaq & Kobe too much.
Greatness comes in different forms
Let’s be real, The Last Dance demonstrated there were a lot of times people were mad at each other in Chicago - primarily Jordan being tough on everyone around him. But what Rodman is talking about is the day-to-day complaining about every little thing. That’s more exhausting than Jordan giving you a mean look during practice.
Both teams had the obvious best player - the Bulls had MJ and the Lakers had Shaq. But while Scottie always felt underappreciated and that he could do more, he never assumed MJ should take a step back.
Kobe, on the other hand, was always the no.1 option in his mind. He had the potential but still hadn’t reached that level. So naturally, there was a lot more friction in the Lakers locker room.
The secret here is both Shaq and Kobe were OK with a bit more drama and jabbing on a daily basis. That kind of approach obviously has a shorter shelf life, but the 2000, 2001, and 2002 Championships prove there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
As wild and unique as he is, even Dennis Rodman turned out to be a bit too old school for the Shaq & Kobe Lakers.