Kobe Bryant led a leap of praise from Laker lovers after his supporting cast helped him grind-out a game 7 83-79 victory. Purple and gold confetti was dropping left and right, championship hats being turned corner to corner, and in the midst of all the excitement, one quote has stood out. In the press game championship conference, a reporter asked Kobe what did this championship mean to him.
"I got one more (championship) than Shaq. You can take that to the bank."
Now opinions plastered from ESPN analysts to online critics question the harsh and snide shot to Shaquille O'Neal. All ranging from Shaq already buried the hatchet to Kobe being the same ol' Kobe. However, these opinions seem to forget history, so let's refresh minds here.
From 2000-2003 the dynamic duo became engraved in the history of the second most winning franchise in NBA history as they won three consecutive titles together. While this was a time of professional prosperity, it was also a time of personal turmoil. It was no secret that the two bumped heads, and the heads bumping eventually lead to the explosion of the team.
Let's remember that it was Shaq who time after time took numerous parting shots after he parted ways with the Lakers and went for the Miami Heat where he would end up winning a title with Dwyane Wade. Shaq numerous times took various jabs at Kobe, I believe at one point he stated that Wade was the best player he played with (obviously a jab at Kobe). While critics took that as the end all be all of "Kobe being nothing without Shaq," the fact was lost that Shaq had a second great Robin the young Dwayne Wade, and even Shaq himself couldn't deny that fact.
And let's all remember the infamous rap. The infamous, most immature that in a way put a new spin on the "Shaq was the man, Kobe the insecure ball hogger" stance.
"I'm a horse. Kobe ratted me out. That's why I'm getting divorced. He said Shaq gave a [woman] a mil[lion dollars]. I don't do that 'cause my name's Shaquille."
And in all these instances, it was Kobe who turned the other way, and would take the high road because he knew that the media would probably be on the lovable big man's side anyways. But it's a two way street here. Shaq for years after the implosion of the three-peat dynasty has aired all the drama to make Kobe look worse and worse, and it's so easy to say now that Shaq was trying to bury the hatchet because Kobe proved he can win without him. It's why now Shaq has to move on to bullying another he thinks is challenging his legacy, Dwight Howard. In life, karma can work both ways here.
Kobe for years since Shaq's leaving had to prove himself. He had to prove himself as the player he truly always was. I remember the Kobe with the afro from 2000 and even then, he was a great and exciting player to watch. Yes, he could be a ball hogger. Yes, he was someone desperate to be the man on the team and to fill Air Jordan's shoes. But overtime, he has evolved as not only a better player and a better teammate, letting his supporting cast pick him up from the struggle in Thursday's game 7. Sometimes in life, all great things must have patience and wait before they can be great. Kobe always had this potential, it's just that now everyone, including even the Big Diesel himself, is seeing it.
Those comments that Kobe made in all honesty are probably well earned. Let's see now if Shaq enjoys the taste of his own medicine.