Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O'Neal: 10 Best Moments in the Shaq-Kobe Feud
Although Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal teamed up to win three consecutive championships and are considered one of the best duos in league history, their famous feud with one another is just as embarrassing as their accomplishments on the basketball court are impressive.
What’s that? It’s been so long you don’t remember the highlights from the notorious feud?
No reason to worry. Here are the top 10 moments from the Kobe-Shaq feud.
10. 2009: Was It All Part of the Show?
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According to a January 2009 report, Shaquille O’Neal told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith all of his feuding with Kobe Bryant throughout the years had to do more with marketing than the two superstars actually disliking one another. Shaq would go on to say he always loved Kobe.
Later in 2009, Kobe and Shaq were teammates on the Western Conference All-Star team. The former teammates were named co-MVPs of the game.
9. 2010: Kobe Bryant Gets the Last Word
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When asked what winning his fifth career championship meant to him, one of the first responses out of Kobe’s mouth was he now had one more championship than Shaq did.
Old habits die hard, I suppose.
8. 2008: Shaquille O'Neal Raps About the Black Mamba
After the Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassingly defeated by the Boston Celtics in the 2008 finals, Shaquille O’Neal reminded everyone how truly petty he could be with a rap expressing how Kobe Bryant couldn’t do it (win a championship) without him, in addition to a few more choice words for his former teammate.
Check out the video of Shaq's rap.
7. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's Christmas Day Showdowns
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Shortly after Shaquille O’Neal was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2004, the NBA did all of its fans a favor by scheduling the Lakers to play the Heat on Christmas Day.
The game itself was more or less uneventful. Kobe and Shaq did not talk or embrace before the game but rather bumped fists in acknowledgment. The Heat would defeat the Lakers in overtime, 104-102.
The following season, the Lakers and Heat faced off again on Christmas, with the Heat winning once again. Before the game, the two players avoided one another completely.
6. 1999-2000: Shaquille O'Neal Calls Kobe Bryant Selfish During a Team Meeting
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The 1990-2000 season was a memorable one for the Los Angeles Lakers. In Phil Jackson’s first year as coach, the team posted 67 victories en route to winning its first championship since 1988.
Shaquille O’Neal was named the league’s MVP, in addition to Kobe Bryant continuing to establish himself as one of the game’s most talented players.
Despite all of the team’s success, there were still moments that made people question Kobe and Shaq’s harmony going forward.
According to a 2001 report, during the 1999-2000 season, Shaq expressed his displeasure during a team meeting, stating Kobe was playing too selfishly for the team to win.
This was just a small appetizer for what was about to take place the following season.
5. Summer of 2004: Kobe Bryant the Puppet Master?
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After the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 finals, the duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant was officially broken up.
Phil Jackson was not offered a new contract, which prompted Shaq to demand a trade. Shaq was eventually dealt to the Miami Heat in exchange for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and Caron Butler.
Many people believed Jackson not being offered a new contract and Shaq being traded to the Heat were signs Kobe was influencing management's decisions, given his rocky relationship with both men.
4. 1998-1999: Shaquille O'Neal Slaps Kobe Bryant
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The first signs the relationship between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal could potentially be rocky came during the 1998-99 season.
According to Roland Lazenby's book The Show, during a pickup game at the team’s practice facility, Shaq slapped Kobe.
While it’s probably not grand enough to be considered the slap heard around the world, it was quite possibly the beginning of the duo’s tumultuous relationship.
3. 2003-2004: Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant Return to Their Old Ways.
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After two seasons without a major blowup, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal picked up where they left off during the 2000-2001 regular season before the start of the 2003-04 campaign.
During the summer of 2003, Kobe was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee while staying in Eagle, Colorado. The charges were eventually dropped after the defendant refused to testify.
The same month Kobe Bryant was arrested, the Los Angeles Lakers signed both Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
Due to his courtroom obligations, Kobe was forced to miss time at training camp.
In a 2003 report, Shaq said the Lakers were his team and suggested the entire team was present, even though Kobe was away in Colorado.
Later on, in an interview with Jim Gray, Bryant would question Shaq’s leadership and his lack of support during hiss legal battle.
Bryant was eventually fined by Phil Jackson for his comments to Gray after agreeing not to air any more dirty laundry through the media.
Despite the resurgence of their feud, Kobe and Shaq led the Lakers to their fourth NBA Finals appearance in five years before losing to the Detroit Pistons in five games.
2. Police Report: Kobe Bryant Talks to the Colorado Police
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According to a 2004 report, while being interviewed by the Colorado police following his arrest for alleged sexual assault, Kobe Bryant had this to say concerning teammate Shaquille O Neal’s supposed extramarital affairs:
"He (Bryant) should have done what Shaq does ... that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything" and already had paid up to $1 million "for situations like this."
In the same report, O'Neal had this to say in rebuttal to Kobe's statement:
"I never hang out with Kobe, I never hung around him. In the seven or eight years we were together, we were never together. So how this guy can think he knows anything about me or my business is funny. And one last thing -- I'm not the one buying love. He's the one buying love."
1. 2000-2001: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's Feud Reaches Its Peak
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The 2000-2001 season proved to be the peak of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's feud.
It all started when Shaq came to training camp out of shape, still basking in the glory from winning his first championship.
Conversely, Bryant came into camp in the best shape of his life, ready to prove to the world he was capable of being the team’s No. 1 scoring option.
Kobe started the season as one of the league’s top scorers, while Shaq struggled to regain his MVP form. Not to mention the team was not dominating on the court the way it had the previous season.
In a 2001 report, Shaq expressed his thoughts on who he thought was the team’s alpha dog:
"When it was clear that everything went through me, the outcome of it was (a record of) 67-15, playing with enthusiasm, the city jumping up and down and a parade. And now we're 23-11. You figure it out ... I don't know why anybody else would want to change—other than selfish reasons."
The same report had Kobe’s take on the issue: It was a different year and the roster had undergone some changes, and Kobe said, "Things change, things evolve, and you just have to grow with that change.”
There were more instances as the season progressed where Kobe forced action on the offensive end, seemingly refusing to run the triangle offense.
In the midst of Kobe trying to further establish himself as the team’s go-to superstar, Shaq would provide one of the more entertaining (selfish?) quotes of the season: "If the big dog ain’t me, then the house won’t get guarded—period.”
Despite Kobe and Shaq’s feud reaching its peak and the team failing to play like the defending champions for the majority of the season, the Lakers managed to catch fire at the right time.
The Lakers would use the momentum of winning their last eight regular season games to go 15-1 in the playoffs, capturing their second consecutive championship.