The rivalry between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest stories of the NBA. The two teammates couldn't stand one another, despite teaming up to win three NBA Championships with the Los Angeles Lakers around the turn of the century.
But how deep did that hatred go? Pretty deep according to John Black, vice president of public relations for the Lakers during the 2003-04 season.
In a story on that 03-04 Lakers team from Bleacher Report – titled An Oral History of the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers, the First Super Team – Black told a scary story about an exchange between Shaq and Kobe.
John Black: Mostly it was Shaq and Kobe didn't like each other, but it didn't affect them on the court. They would say something about the other, on or off the record, but it didn't become confrontational more than two or three times over the eight years. When Kobe gave the statement to Jim Gray where he went off calling Shaq fat and lazy, that was one of the times. There was one really bad one, early on. Brian Shaw had to pull them apart. Shaq threatened to murder Kobe.
Threatening to kill someone is never a great idea. No imagine that person is someone you're going to spend every day with, practicing, competing for championships, traveling all over the country.
Talk about uncomfortable.
And imagine how that made their teammates feel, like Gary Payton and Karl Malone who had joined this team to try and win a championship.
Malone tried to shut it all down, but to no avail.
"It came to a head the last practice before the regular season, and they sent them both home," Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Heisler said. "I think it was Karl who said, 'This is over now, trust me.' That afternoon, Kobe loaded up Jim Gray with all this stuff about Shaq coming to camp fat and out of shape and not being a leader. That's how they started the season."
How'd that go?
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