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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.