Los Angeles Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal enjoyed great success as teammates, winning three NBA championships together in eight seasons. However, the superstar pair have clashed on numerous occasions and made their long-running feud public.
That includes one in 2003, when Bryant accused O’Neal of not supporting him when he was in legal trouble over sexual assault allegations.
In 2003, during an interview with ESPN’s Jim Gray, Bryant was asked if O’Neal supported his legal situation. Bryant then took aim at the big man, saying Shaq didn’t even give him a word of encouragement during his struggles:
“He’s not what I would call a ‘big brother,'” Bryant said.
“A Big Brother will be called in to provide support this summer. “I’ve heard absolutely nothing from him. “
Bryant added that he has received letters from multiple members of the Lakers organization and even some opponents. According to the late player, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, golf star Tiger Woods and even O’Neal’s uncle reached out to him. However, he still hasn’t heard from his partner:
“I talked to Dwayne (George), Rick (Fox), Mitch (Kupchak), Phil (Jackson) and our owner Jerry Buss. Shaq’s own uncle Jerome Called and left three messages. Other teammates like Derek (Fisher), Mark “(Madsen) and (Stanislav Medvedenko) also left messages.” Opponents also called (Chris) Webber, (Mike) Bibby and a lot of other guys. So do a lot of coaches,” Bryant said.
“Michael Jordan didn’t have my home phone and he reached out to him to offer support. The same goes for Tiger Woods. But I heard nothing from my so-called brother.”
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Kobe Byrant on why he publicly addressed feud with Shaquille O’Neal
In the same interview, Kobe Bryant was also asked why he chose to deal with his feud with Shaquille O’Neal publicly rather than behind closed doors. Bryant said he asked then-Lakers coach Phil Jackson to address the emerging issue, but Jackson recused himself.
Therefore, Kobe said that he personally reprimanded the big man for his unprofessional behavior:
“I asked Phil (Jackson) on Sunday to say something and calm the situation before it exploded. But he backed off, so now we’re here,” Bryant said.
“Every time something happens to Shaq, I get stronger and I don’t think this time will be any different. But someone in this organization has to speak up because his unprofessional conduct hurt us last year and I don’t Hopefully it hurts us this year.”
O’Neal’s feud with Bryant resulted in the big man being traded to the Miami Heat shortly after the 2004 offseason. However, the Lakers legend later smoothed things over before Bryant’s tragic passing in 2020.
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