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How Shaquille O’Neal’s Non-Lakers Success Drove Ultra-Competitive Kobe Bryant to “Sleepless Nights”

Published 12/02/2023, 11:24 PM EST

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal are one of the most dominant superstar duos in NBA history. They played together for eight years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite their on-court chemistry, the duo did not share a very friendly relationship off the court. That led to the Lakers trading Shaq to Miami in 2004 after they lost in the finals to the Detroit Pistons. Shaq immediately found success with his new team and won his fourth championship in 2006. Kobe Bryant’s Lakers teammate Trevor Ariza revealed how Big Diesel’s success in Miami gave Kobe a tough time.

While Shaq continued dominating the league with the Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant struggled to keep the Lakers afloat.

Kobe Bryant was not pleased with Shaquille O’Neal’s success

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Kobe failed to make the playoffs in 2005 and got knocked out in the first round the following two years. Trevor Ariza revealed on the Club Shay Shay Podcast that seeing Shaq win one more ring than him infuriated the Black Mamba. “It drove him to sleepless nights. He wanted to prove that he was who he thought he was.” Ariza said. Trevor Ariza was Kobe’s teammate from 2007 to 2009, and he helped them reach the NBA finals in both years.

 

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Kobe got a chance to match Shaq’s title wins in 2008, but Kevin Garnett and Co. shattered his dream in the NBA finals. Kobe finally found redemption the following year as he led the Lakers to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. After finally winning one more ring than Shaq, Kobe uttered the iconic words, “I just got one more than Shaq. So, you can take that to the bank.” Even after all those years, the ultra-competitive Kobe Bryant had only one goal in mind, to surpass Shaquille O’Neal.

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal buried the hatchet after retirement

Kobe Bryant bid adieu to the NBA in 2016 after winning 5 Championships with the Lakers. Even after Kobe’s retirement, his beef with Shaquille O’Neal was talked about frequently. Many wondered what could have been if Kobe and Shaq got along well and stayed together in LA for a longer period. Kobe and Shaq silenced the critics after they publicly buried the hatchet during a 1-on-1 interview in 2018.

Read More: Imitating Michael Jordan Would Not Have Gone Well for Kobe Bryant According to Former Teammate

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The two Hall of Famers had a lengthy conversation about their time together and concluded that it was all in the past. Unfortunately, two years later, Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash. But it will give Shaq some comfort in knowing that he was able to make amends before the Black Mamba left the world. Kobe’s Mamba Mentality still serves as motivation to athletes across the globe.

Watch This Story: Shaquille O’Neal Surprises “Dummy” Charles Barkley on New Show Premiere With Mystery Call

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Written by:

Rohan Bhaunt

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“Nothing is given. Everything is earned.” - This LeBron James quote struck me very early in my life.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz