Lakers legend Bryant, 41, was being interviewed Patrick Bet-David earlier this month in Las Vegas at the 10th annual PHP Agency Convention. Bryant said that the man known as Shaq and “The Big Diesel” would “be the greatest of all time,” had he been equipped with a better work ethic. At the beginning of this century, Bryant complained frequently and bitterly that Shaq was “fat” and “lazy” and didn’t work hard.
When Bet-David baited Bryant with the “what if” question about how much better Shaq would be if he had been in the gym more, Bryant walked right into the trap.
“He’d have f—ing 12 rings,” Bryant deadpanned unapologetically. “He’d be the greatest of all time. He’d tell you that.”
With “The Big Diesel” and the “Black Mamba” (Bryant) at the helm, the Los Angeles Lakers went to four straight NBA Finals and won three in a row between 2000-04. But O’Neal and Bryant’s relationship was so toxic they frequently feuded in the media. Observers were fearful that O’Neal would one day break Bryant in half for his caustic comments.
The two reportedly came to blows one day behind the scenes with Bryant refusing to back down and reportedly earning Shaq’s respect. Soon after their last NBA Finals appearance, Shaq, 47, was traded to the Miami Heat where he won a title with Dwyane Wade. Kobe later won two championships when the Lakers acquired celebrated center Pau Gasol, 39.
The two legends and cultural icons have reconciled their relationship in the ensuing years — or so we thought.
Bryant’s words yesterday did not go unanswered. Shaq fired back angrily at Bryant with this heat-seeking missile of a response on Twitter.
Shaq to Kobe😂😂 pic.twitter.com/LYNIpjL5Xo
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) August 28, 2019
Bryant later mopped up the mess he created when he said Shaq nevertheless was the “most dominant ever,” despite Bryant’s misgivings about Shaq’s work ethic, or lack therof:
Don’t get it confused. He was still the #MDE
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 28, 2019
What do you make of the Kobe-Shaq feud reboot?