Skip to main content

“Get Shaq out of the post sometimes, I can take anybody one-on-one in his league” — Kobe Bryant's pitch to become the Los Angeles Lakers' go-to guy

Kobe always wanted to be the face of the Lakers, and he didn't shy away from letting everybody know about it since Day 1.
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant shared the spotlight as Los Angeles Lakers superstars for eight years. Throughout that stretch, the tension between the two perennial NBA All-Stars was present at times, and it culminated with an unsurprising fallout in 2004.

There were underlying factors as to why the Shaq-Kobe tandem collapsed, but most fans knew it was basically a clash of egos. It was inevitable as O'Neal was arguably the most dominant big man in the league. On the other hand, Bryant simply knew he was a star right from the jump.

"Showboat" wanted to be the guy

It is a fact that when Bryant took off, he and O'Neal engaged in a silent war about who's who on the Lakers squad. Shaq was the focal point of the offense for obvious reasons, while some viewed Bryant as inconsistent at the time. But if there was something in Kobe that was constant, it was his remarkable confidence.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

At 17, the rookie Bryant walked on the borderline between confident and cocky. Hence, O'Neal gave him the moniker "Showboat." Apparently, Shaq had a reason to do so, as even former Lakers head coach Del Harris could tell that the young Kobe was biting off something bigger than he could chew.

"One time, [Kobe] he said, 'Coach, if you can get Shaq out of the post sometimes, I can take anybody one-on-one in his league," Harris revealed via The Ringer. "And I said, 'Kobe, I believe that, but there's two things. First, you can do that, but you can't do it a high enough percentage of times for a big winning team like us. And second, I'm not moving Shaq out of there so that you can do that.' I said, 'Now, there'll be a day, but it's not now. And you just have to wait your time.'"

Mamba since day 1

Of course, Bryant's request to be the Lakers' go-to guy wasn't granted. Instead, he spent his first several years in the NBA under O'Neal's shadow. But according to Shaq, everything was crystal clear, and not one day had passed that he forgot about what Kobe wanted ever since day one.

"The most memorable moment is when he came in at 17 and wanted to be the best ever," O'Neal said of Bryant. "And we had to be like, 'Hey man, chill. Relax, you're gonna get there.' We had to, like, let him go."

As we all know, Bryant's time came. He eventually became the face of the Lakers, and arguably, he even surpassed O'Neal in the storied franchise's all-time great spectrum.

Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson

“It looked like me and Shaq had a baby” — when Chuck had Shaq dying laughing with his Zion comment

One year later, Zion proved he's put in the work and is leading the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas

"It was intelligent trash talking, when you played him you’re playing a mental war" — Gilbert Arenas shares his experience trash-talking Kobe Bryant

Former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas outlines what it was like to receive trash-talking from Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson

"They gave me a check for $25,000 cash, I blew it all in one day" — Stephen Jackson reveals he blew his first NBA paycheck

Former three-point specialist Stephen Jackson reveals how he and Mike Bibby spent his first NBA pay check in a few hours.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and New Orleans Hornets guard Devin Brown

“I think we can pay you a little bit more than that” — When Gregg Popovich saved Devin Brown from an overnight stocker job

Thanks to Gregg Popovich's training camp invite, Devin Brown was able to live his NBA dream.

Dennis Rodman

"How was the nightlife with Dennis Rodman?" — questions that Chicago Bulls big man Luc Longley absolutely hated

Even those outside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were annoyed with repetitive questions.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and NBA great Charles Barkley

“He’s been the best 2-guard in the NBA all year” — Charles Barkley reiterates his admiration for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Saying that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the best shooting guard this season might be a stretch, but don't say that to Charles Barkley.

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young

“I don’t want the leader of my team to be Trae Young” — Bill Simmons and Ryen Russillo on all the guards they'd take ahead of Trae Young

When it comes to winning basketball, Simmons and Russillo believe that there are 8 point guards under 30 that are better than Young.