Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had a complex relationship during their time together with the Los Angeles Lakers and after that. They led the purple and gold to the NBA championship in three straight seasons before their differences split them. Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, while Kobe inherited a struggling Lakers team.
After their partnership ended, their feud continued. Kobe competed against his former teammate every season, trying to tie and surpass his four rings. He finally surpassed Shaq in 2010, when the Lakers won their second consecutive title, beating the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Finals.
As soon as he won that championship, Kobe let everybody know that he won one more than Shaq, trolling his former teammate. A couple of years later, the two legends sat face-to-face to discuss their past and current relationship.
Talking about that fifth ring, Kobe said it was very challenging given the Celtics’ quality and all the injuries he played through during that series. Shaq then asked if he thought about his reaction following that championship run (1:08)
Shaq: « Do you think I was pissed when you got No. 5? »
Kobe: « Of course you were. »
Shaq: « No, I tore my house up. I went crazy. ‘Cause, when I got four and you got four, that’s straight. When you got that fifth one, you said, ‘I just wanted to get one more than Shaq.' »
Kobe: « Absolutely. I said, ‘you know what? It ain’t nothing he can do about it, either.' »
It’s not a secret that Shaq can be very sensitive sometimes. One can only imagine how salty he was after his former teammate won one more ring than him.
They laughed about it during that encounter, but things were different in 2010. NBA fans always wonder what would have happened with the Lakers if Shaq and Kobe never went separate ways.
They were a terrible force in the league and still had a long way to go after the front office sent O’Neal to Miami. Fortunately, these two could make amends and became friends until the Black Mamba was killed in a fatal helicopter crash last year.
Ever since that, Shaq always pays respect to Kobe. They were fierce competitors and even though the relationship in Los Angeles didn’t end on the best terms, they put the egos aside and created a good friendship years later.