While Everyone Feared Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant Bullied Him In This Manner

Published 10/10/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, celebrates his 48 points with Shaquille O’Neal after defeating the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


One can say a lot of things about Kobe Bryant. But one thing that can’t be said about him is that he was ever nervous. He wanted to take every shot he could because he believed he was often the greatest option on the court. And this was regardless of who he was sharing the court with.

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Kobe had always been that way. In fact, he got into an altercation with Shaquille O’Neal during his rookie season when Shaq demanded the ball and he refused to pass it. In a 2019 interview with Patrick Bet-David, Kobe Bryant recalled this incident with a smile on his face.

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Kobe Bryant on the time he stood up to Shaquille O’Neal as a rookie

While talking to Patrick Bet-David Bryant reflected on his relationship with Shaq, he recalled this funny incident from his rookie year. He said, “A game in Phoenix my first year we were playing. He kept posting up, but they kept fouling him, so he kept going to free throw line and kept missing them.”

“And so he throw the ball out to me, I’m not throwing that sh*t back in there. So I kept shooting them, right? So we’re getting a timeout, he’s like ‘hey uh hey I’m open’ I’m like okay.”

“And so we go out and same thing, he comes ‘hey hey hey I’m open’ okay. Then he came back again ‘hey dude you gotta throw me the ball” I said man f*ck that get it off the rebound if I miss bro.”

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He further added, “18 year’s old man 18 years old, I must have been out of my damn mind.”

Lakers Kobe Bryant bumps chests with Shaquille O’Neal after O’Neal got fouled scoring in the first half during the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs at Staples Center Sunday April 21, 2002.Trailblazer Damon Stoudamire looks on from the left. Lakers won 95-87. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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What did this mean for the Lakers?

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This incident of Kobe challenging Shaq began the historical duo’s close chemistry. This back-and-forth of the challenging mentality on the court, combined with the ability to be brutally honest to each other, was key to building that mutual respect. While this duo gave the franchise three successful seasons in the NBA, they gave each other a lifetime of memories.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

249 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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