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Kobe Bryant: 'I Woulda Had F--king 12 Rings' If Shaq Had Been in Gym More

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

Shaquille O'Neal, left, and Kobe Bryant chat at the unveiling of his statue in front of Staples Center, Friday, March 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Kobe Bryant found a way to praise Shaquille O'Neal while also claiming his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate could have been an even greater NBA player if he had a better work ethic. 

In an interview with Valuetainment, Bryant said he "woulda had f--king 12 rings" if O'Neal had committed to being in better shape (warning: contains profanity). 

NBA Central @TheNBACentral

Kobe says Shaq could’ve been the greatest player of all time if he had stayed in shape and they could’ve won 12 rings (🎥 @ValuetainmentTV ) https://t.co/TNsFBS6SnD

It didn't take long for Bryant's comments to get back to O'Neal, who issued a response on Instagram (via NBA Central):

NBA Central @TheNBACentral

Shaq responds to Kobe 👀 https://t.co/cC2Tn1Et59

In the same conversation, Bryant also said O'Neal "would be the greatest of all time" if he had Bryant's work ethic. The Black Mamba later sent out this tweet to let everyone know where he stands with the Hall of Fame center:

Kobe Bryant @kobebryant

Don’t get it confused. He was still the #MDE

This back and forth, in many ways, sums up what the Bryant-O'Neal relationship was like during their eight seasons together in Los Angeles. They worked together long enough for the Lakers to win three consecutive titles from 1999-2002, but eventually grew so far apart they had to be broken up. 

O'Neal wound up being the one to go when he was traded to the Miami Heat in July 2004. It seemed to work out for both superstars. Shaq went on to win a title in his second season with the Heat. Bryant won back-to-back titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Bryant was quick to emphasize there was "no beef" between the two legendary players.