Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant are still considered (and might always be) the best two-way punch in NBA history but their time together wasn't always smooth. As we all know, their breakup was ugly and one of the most dramatic chapters in NBA history, which all started because they couldn't get along on and off the court.
Despite winning 3 championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant felt O'Neal was unserious and didn't want to be the best player he could be, while the latter felt Kobe's ego was detrimental to their relationship. The tension between both all-time greats escalated more after 8 years together, to the point that the Lakers brass had to choose between the players.
O'Neal revealed that he and Kobe never had beef.
Just recently, O'Neal opened up about his time with Bryant and revealed that they both never really had beef towards each other. According to The Diesel, they had misunderstandings that led to one fight after another. It was just that both players were young and immature adults who wanted to get their way most of the time.
"It wasn't really beef. It was a disagreement at times because he wanted to shoot all the time and I was like 'You gotta pass it to me all the time,'" O'Neal said in his appearance on the "IMPULSIVE" podcast. "I would never spill over to real life because you know, at the end of the day, I got to go home to my children. If I see you out, it's not like Imma beat you up in front of your kids," O'Neal added.
True to O'Neal's words, his conflict with Kobe only lasted until Shaq's NBA career concluded, so if ever there was beef (which Shaq admitted wasn't the case), it was squashed when both players matured and went their separate ways. Misunderstandings between teammates often happen (even today), but it's also a recipe for a disastrous breakup. In Shaq and Kobe's case, it led them to 3 championships and one of the most dramatic moments in Lakers history.
When Shaq and Kobe's conflict escalated
In their one-on-one interview, Bryant admitted that he was most annoyed in the summer of 2000 after the duo captured their first championship together.
With the goal in mind to defend their title and win more championships, Kobe didn't like that Shaq spent his summer going on vacations and living his life to the fullest instead of training and attempting to get better. O'Neal admitted that he spent his summer chilling because he was relieved after winning his first title (and getting what he called "the monkey" off his back) therefore, he wanted to celebrate to the fullest.
Ultimately, one disagreement led to another, which O'Neal said was merely just a misunderstanding between two players who approach winning and the game of basketball differently. While Shaq believes that both he and Bryant could've won more championships if he stayed with the Lakers, at the end of the day, winning 3 straight titles is still something to be proud of — one that we don't often see in NBA history.