The Los Angeles Lakers era that featured Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant was defined by winning. This team accumulated three Championship victories (2000-2002) and was viewed as one of, if not the best team in the league. However, Bryant actually believes that the team could have been far more successful if his former teammate had put in some extra work.
During a recent sitdown with Patrick Bet-David of Valuetainment, Bryant dished on the different aspects of his career, including the friction between himself, O'Neal, and why the Lakers didn't win more games. Interestingly enough, the man known as Black Mamba believes that he could have had 12 rings if only O'Neal had headed to the gym on a more frequent basis.
“He’d be the greatest of all time,” Bryant said during the interview. “He’d be the first to tell you that. I wish he was in the gym — I would’ve had 12 f—ing rings!”
While it does sound like Bryant was hating on his former teammate, he was quick to point out that this is nothing that he hadn't previously told O'Neal. As he continued to explain, “Me and Shaq sit down all the time and I say, ‘Dude if your lazy ass was in shape …'”
Shaq responds to Kobe 👀 pic.twitter.com/cC2Tn1Et59— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 28, 2019
Well, O'Neal actually did not appreciate the comments by Bryant. He responded to a post on Instagram about his work ethic. The four-time champion shot back at Bryant by saying "[You] woulda had twelve [rings] if [you] passed the ball more especially in the finals against the Pistons. #facts"
O'Neal continued to defend his much-maligned work ethic by saying "You don't get statues by not working hard." This comment is in reference to the bronze statue of the former Lakers star that was unveiled in 2017. This likeness currently sits outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles and joins those of Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Elgin Baylor.
Whether or not Bryant made these comments with malicious intent is irrelevant. O'Neal did not appreciate the attack on his work ethic, and he certainly does not appear to be as comfortable with his former teammate. Bryant may say that he talks to O'Neal all of the time about how he did not get in the gym enough, but the man who made Kazaam vehemently disagrees.