Why did Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) and Kobe Bryant fall out at the Los Angeles Lakers?
Shaquille O’Neal is widely regarded as one of the best players to ever step on a basketball court. The NBA Hall of Famer is one of the most celebrated players of all time, winning four NBA Championships as well as an MVP award during his NBA career spanning over two decades.
The prime of Shaq’s career was spent at the Los Angeles Lakers, where he combined size, strength and ability into a scary package that made him one of the most dominant players in the league. Shaq’s dominance coupled with the legendary Kobe Bryant helped the Lakers win three NBA Championships back to back from 2000 to 2002, and are still the last team to do a three-peat in the NBA.
The pair played alongside each other for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, winning three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. However, a reported spat between the two because of their differences saw Shaq being traded to Miami Heat in 2004, ending the partnership of one of the best one-two punches that the NBA has ever seen. The exact details of why the partnership broke up is still a much-asked question among newer faces in the NBA community.
Why exactly did Shaq and Kobe Bryant fall out at the Los Angeles Lakers?
It has been said that the legendary one-two punch fell out because of a number of differences.
While the Lakers won three straight rings from 2000 to 2002, they started dealing with some problems at the start of the 2002-03 season. The team began their season with an 11-19 record as O’Neal was sidelined with an injury. They eventually bounced back but couldn’t advance to the Finals. The San Antonio Spurs eliminated them in the second round.
Shaq and Kobe did not have a great relationship at this point. They fired at each other through the media. Bryant even claimed that O’Neal came into training camp fat and out of shape. Despite all of these issues, the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals where Detroit Pistons dominated them and won the Finals in only five games – after which Shaq was traded.
Shaq’s trade to the Miami Heat ended one of the greatest partnerships in NBA history.