Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal haven’t played together in 15 years. But that doesn’t mean they’ve let go of old grudges.
Bryant called out his former teammate in an interview, saying if O’Neal had worked harder during their shared nine seasons on the Los Angeles Lakers, they might’ve won a lot more championships.
“I wish he was in the gym,” he said, adding he would have had “12 rings.”
The barb took place at an insurance company’s convention in Las Vegas where former president George W. Bush was also a keynote speaker.
“He’d be the greatest of all time,” Bryant said during the interview, inexplicably set in front of “Transformers” memorabilia. “This guy was a force that I had never seen.”
He said it’s a sentiment he’s shared with O’Neal several times, one that even sparked a fist fight between the two.
But Shaq was quick to combat his claims.
“U woulda had twelve if u passed the ball more especially in the finals against the pistons #facts,” he commented on an Instagram post, referring to the 2004 NBA Finals that saw the Lakers lose to the Detroit Pistons. “You don’t get statues by not working hard.”
The duo won three NBA titles on the Lakers from 2000 to 2002, but their beef beleaguered the team since they joined in 1996. Their bold personalities and playing styles often worked against their success on the court.
Their feud even inspired former Lakers coach Phil Jackson to write a book about it.
It seems Shaq’s doing just fine with four rings for now.
He’s an analyst for “Inside the NBA,” is the face of brands like Gold Bond and The General Insurance and recently joined Papa John’s board of directors. All of that, and he still has time to hit the mosh pit at an EDM festival.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of NBA championships Shaquille O'Neal has won during his career. It's four.