Shaq to Kobe: 'I don't hate you'


Shaquille O'Neal's conversation with frenemy/former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant drops Monday, and another sample of the podcast came out over the weekend.
Last week, an excerpt was released where both players admitted regrets over how their union ended in 2004, after winning three NBA titles together over the previous five seasons. In the latest leak, O'Neal summarized the circumstances of their breakup as a "work beef", according to the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner.
O'Neal to Bryant, from "The Big Podcast with Shaq."
I just want people to know that I don't hate you, I know you don't hate me. I call it today a 'work beef,' is what we had. I was young, you was young. But then as I look at it, we won three (championships) out of four (NBA Finals appearances) so I don't really think a lot was done wrong. So I just wanted to clear the air and let everybody know that, no, I don't hate you. We had a lot of disagreements, we had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us both.
Bryant then recalled fondly to O'Neal about a time they almost came to physical blows in 1999, before they had even won a title together.
In '99, I think Shaq realized that this kid is really competitive and he's a little crazy. And I realized that I probably had a couple of screws loose because I nearly got into a fistfight and I actually was willing to get into a fight with this man. I went home and I was like, 'Dude, I've either got to be the dumbest or the most courageous kid on the face of the Earth.'
The relationship between the most unstoppable big man in the history of the NBA and one of the greatest wing players of all time was fractious from the start. O'Neal was an established superstar before Bryant arrived in the league, and Bryant's gun-slinging as a player had a well-known habit of annoying teammates and coaches.
By the time the 2003-04 season rolled around, it was impossible to conceal the players' dislike for each other. O'Neal would even later suggest that comments made by Bryant around this time resulted in his divorce. One story from the '03-'04 season had O'Neal threatening homicide on Bryant, something Shaq now laughs off.
"They'll say, 'I read an article where you said you was going to kill him.' Yeah, I did say that, but I didn't mean it," O'Neal says on the podcast.
O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2004, a month after the Lakers fell flat in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons. The center, who was embroiled in a dispute over a contract extension with team owner Jerry Buss, now blames much of the breakup with Bryant to business, rather than personal issues.
"It was two alpha males and the business aspect kicked in," O'Neal said.
Shaq did add, however, that he was annoyed when Bryant won his fifth NBA title in 2010 - one more than Shaq won in his career. "He gets No. 5 and a reporter says, 'You feel good you got one more than Shaq?'" O'Neal said. "Then Kobe was, 'Yeah, I got one more than Shaq.'
"I was like, 'he got me'."


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