‘Acting Like Brats’: Former Lakers Teammate Reveals the Crux of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal Rivalry

Published 08/31/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
Lakers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal sit on the bench with foul trouble against the Timberwolves in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Super teams can be a very touchy topic to discuss. With the current Lakers building one of their own this offseason, one can’t help but remember the first time that such a star-studded roster was formed in the franchise. It is safe to say that it was the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers that last showed us this much talent.

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Of course, some even believe that it was the first super team out of many, but that’s a discussion for another day. However, having such star power didn’t mean there weren’t any problems. And we all know the Kobe Bryant – Shaquille O’Neal feud was still at its peak then. Over the years, many people part of the organization have spoken up about their beef and now Gary Payton has as well.

Gary Payton gives a different outlook on the Lakers infamous beef

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At the time, the purple and gold squad had four future Hall of Famers in Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Gary Payton. Although they lost to the Detroit Pistons this season during the NBA Finals in five games, they’re all still considered a deadly mix. Of course, Kobe and Shaq’s rivalry was the talk of the town then and will be for decades to come.

So, in a recent interview with David Samson, Payton spoke facts about their situation back then. He stated, “When we got into the season, it was a little bit different. I had heard about all the tension between Shaq and Kobe, wasn’t really like that. It was just that, you had two brothers, who was a bigger brother and little brother, and they were competitors.

“One wanted something out of the other one, and the other one something out of this one. And they were acting like brats. That’s all it was. The big brother wanted the little brother to respect him. The little brother didn’t want to do it, but it was okay.”

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Payton and Karl picked sides?

Further on, Payton explained that when he and Malone entered the equation, they acted as the uncles to these brothers. While Karl took Shaq under his wing, Gary did that with Kobe. Eventually, the latter formed a beautiful friendship.

LAS VEGAS – JULY 24: Gary Payton (L) interviews Kobe Bryant #10 of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period” after a practice at Valley High School June 24, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In fact, Gary believes that this helped the four of them at least come together on the court, no matter what was going on off of it. Well, yes, the one very commendable aspect of their rivalry was that it hardly affected their quest in creating the legacy they did for the franchise. Looks like Gary and Karl are the ones to thank for.

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DIVE DEEPER

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Yashima Bhatia

1474 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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