Kobe Bryant says he’s too old to beef with Shaquille O’Neal, but Bryant’s recent comments about Shaq’s dedication to the game has led to a new chapter in their epic rivalry.
When asked about O’Neal’s potential, Bryant said that Shaq could have been the greatest player of all time if he had Bryant’s work ethic, and Kobe boasted that he could have won “12 titles” with the Lakers if Shaq hadn’t been lazy. Bryant later tweeted that O’Neal was still the most dominant player ever, and Shaq responded by saying that Bryant would have had at least one extra title if he passed the ball more often.
Bryant repeatedly ripped Shaq for his conditioning at the height of their feud during the early 2000s, but Bryant’s alpha mentality – which enabled him to become one of the greatest scorers in NBA history – was also a point of contention.
Raja Bell, who clashed with Bryant while with the Suns, revealed on the Kanell and Bell podcast this week that Shaq once told him the Lakers had a system to deny Bryant the ball if he started shooting too much.
Bell and O’Neal played together in Phoenix, and O’Neal taught the team a hand signal to keep the ball away from Gordon Giriček, a player Shaq once put in a chokehold until he was unconscious. According to Bell, Shaq said the Lakers used the same system to stifle Bryant’s shot attempts in Los Angeles.
Via CBS Sports:
“Shaq started saying ‘hey guys, this is the symbol’ (twitches thumbs downward) ‘when I give you this, Gordon doesn’t get the ball anymore.’ And I’m like ‘dude what is the background on that, where’d you come up with that?’ And he was like ‘when Kobe was young, he would be going in and just trying to get ’em, so the rest of us had a universal kind of code that if we looked at each other and went (gives signal) then that meant Kobe didn’t get the ball anymore.’”