Shaq on fall-out with Kobe: There can’t be 2 kings
Shaquille O’Neal is set to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in two days, and he recently reminisced about his glory days alongside another former Laker great, Kobe Bryant.
Speaking to TNT’s Ernie Johnson, “The Big Aristotle” detailed his then rocky relationship with the recently retired guard, with whom he won three straight championships from 2000 to 2002.
“There can’t be two kings…”
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When asked if everything was cool between him and Bryant after his departure for the Miami Heat in 2004, Shaq gave out a candid answer.
“Yes and no. I didn’t want to leave, but being a veteran in the business of basketball, I realized that there can’t be two kings,” O’Neal said in an interview as part of TNT’s hour-long special “Shaq: The Big Conversation.”
“Every great movie that I’ve seen—mafia movies, just to put it in better terms, the younger boss always takes out the older boss,” the towering center added.
Heralded by many as the best one-two punch of the post ’90s era, O’Neal and Bryant dominated the competition—each scoring at a 20-point-plus clip most nights.
However, the pair’s acrimonious relationship inside the locker room was heavily documented by the media at the time.
The breaking point came when the Lakers lost four straight games in the 2004 NBA Finals against a severely underdog squad, the Detroit Pistons.
Despite sporting a lineup featuring all-time greats Gary Payton and Karl Malone, the team felt short of capturing a fourth straight title, and the rift between the two stars eventually became too big for them to coexist.
Both players eventually won titles after the split, with O’Neal capturing a title with the Heat in 2006, while Bryant won back-to-back championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
O’Neal will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday (Saturday in Manila), along with his former competitors Allen Iverson and Yao Ming.
Retired legends Julius Erving, Bill Russel, Isiah Thomas and Alonzo Mourning will be presenting the inductees. Khristian Ibarrola
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