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"Leaders don't do that" — When Kobe Bryant shared why Shaquille O'Neal is not the leader of the Lakers

The 2003-04 NBA season was the boiling point of the Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant feud.

Though the Los Angeles Lakers front office added legends Gary Payton and Karl Malone to the mix in the 2003-04 NBA season, it was all in vain as it was the last straw of the Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant feud. Ahead of the season, Bryant uttered spicy remarks on why Shaq is not the leader of the Purple and Gold.

Leaders don't beg

After the addition of Payton and Malone to the Purple and Gold squad, Shaq reiterated that it is still his team. Bryant responded by saying he doesn't care whose team it is. If Shaq claims it is his team, Bryant said he should not report out of shape and fat to camp. Asked if he considers Shaq to be a leader, Kobe responded:

"Leaders don't beg for a contract extension and negotiate some 30 million [dollars] plus per year deal in the media when we have two future Hall of Famers playing here pretty much for free. A leader would not demand the ball every time down the floor when you have the three of us [Malone, Payton, Bryant] playing beside you, not to mention the teammates you have gone to war with for years -- and, by the way, then threaten not to play defense and rebound if you don't get the ball every time down the floor," Bryant said, per ESPN.

These were pretty strong comments, especially since Kobe dropped it before the season began. It would've been wise for Kobe to say that the entire team is doing well and that his relationship with Shaq is okay. But it seems that Kobe couldn't hold back any longer. He had to let the whole world know his friendship with Shaq was in shambles.

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Not my big brother

When Kobe entered the league as a 17-year-old, Shaq — whom the Lakers had acquired from the free agent market — immediately took the young Mamba under his wing. Kobe saw Shaq as his big brother — someone who would teach him the ropes and show him what it takes to make it big in the NBA.

After several years of donning the Purple and Gold jersey and three championships later, Kobe rescinded his statements. He no longer saw O'Neal as his big brother. Asked who called him up amid his legal battle, Kobe said several reached out. Not one of them was named Shaquille O'Neal.

"He is not my quote unquote 'big brother.' A big brother would have called to lend his support this summer. I heard absolutely nothing from him,"  Bryant said.

Bryant pointed out that several of his Lakers teammates, Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss, checked up on him. Michael Jordan, who Kobe said didn't know his home phone, managed to track it to send some support. Even Shaq's uncle called him up. But he did not hear anything from the Big Diesel himself.

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