"It just looks like a feud": Shaquille O'Neal sets the record straight on his beef with Kobe Bryant 

Shaquille O
Shaquille O'Neal opened up on his supposed "feud" with the late Kobe Bryant. [photo: Shaq Instagram]

Shaquille O'Neal’s relationship with the late Kobe Bryant became a hot topic during the LA Lakers’ three-peat from 2000 to 20002. Despite obvious friction between the two superstars, they managed to bring glory to the Purple and Gold franchise. The end of their partnership eventually came in 2004 when the star-studded team lost 4-1 to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

O’Neal repeatedly said that the Lakers were his team. Leading into the 2003-04 season, he even told the media that Gary Payton and Karl Malone came to LA because of him and no one else. The three-time NBA Finals MVP stamped his authority and said that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Shaquille O'Neal’s confidence proved to be unfounded as the Lakers chose Kobe Bryant over him. After the embarrassing loss to the Pistons, he was sent to the Miami Heat. The “Black Mamba” had taken on the franchise cornerstone tag O’Neal wore for years.

On “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” the four-time champ was asked by Adam Lefkoe about his feud with his also legendary former teammate. Shaq's response seemed to surprise the show’s co-host:

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“What you all have to understand was there was never a feud. You got to understand there’s one boss and one boss only. … However, the respect has to always be there. We don’t see eye to eye but it ain’t a feud. It just looks like a feud.
“Imma keep it real. When I’m getting doubled, he the first dude I’m looking for. When he getting doubled, I’m the first dude he is looking for.”

For their teammates and the reporters who covered the team, they would certainly disagree with Shaquille O'Neal’s contention. Doc Rivers, the current Milwaukee Bucks coach, said when the Lakers broke up the two that the Shaq-Kobe relationship was the “biggest travesty in sports.” Even Shaq admitted that he could have won at least seven championships if he and Bryant remained teammates.


Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant hashed things out later in their careers

In Shaquille O'Neal’s first game as a Miami Heat following the trade from the LA Lakers, he hyped up the Christmas Day showdown. He told reporters that Kobe Bryant was a “Corvette” and that he was a “brick wall.” It wasn’t lost on anyone what Shaq alluded to.

There weren’t any heated moments between the two during the game. They even bumped forearms before tip-off. After the game, O’Neal told the media that he was tired of all that issue and had already moved past it.

When Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal sat down together during a segment from "NBA on TNT", the iconic guard had this to say:

“When you say it at the time, you actually mean it, and then when you get older you have more perspective, and you're like, ‘Holy s**t.’ I was an idiot when I was a kid.”

Whatever friction the two LA Lakers legends had, it was all gone, particularly when they were done playing basketball. When Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020, O’Neal was beside himself with grief. He keeps reminding people about not holding grudges after learning a painful lesson from the death of his former teammate.

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant once had a rocky relationship, but their fans were thrilled they eventually set aside the animosity.

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