Shaquille O'Neal was putting up insane numbers back in his early-00s peak with the Lakers. Anybody should get credit for doing so, but it's important to note a lot of Big Diesel's game naturally came to him. It's ridiculous to be that big and that powerful and not be at least somewhat dominant.
Kobe Bryant had to work on his skill to get his shine however. While O'Neal was the man during the Lakers three-peat, Bryant had to work to perfect his craft. O'Neal got the shine; Bryant not as much. O'Neal sold a platinum album; Bryant had "K.O.B.E." O'Neal could chill but Bryant couldn't, which is why their relationship started to deteriorate, according to Phil Jackson.
Jackson was speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference when he mentioned O'Neal's lackadaisical attitude eventually started to get to Bryant. “Shaq didn’t work at it,” he said. “It was too easy. He was too big and it was too easy for him. He had his clown role that he had to play. That’s a wonderful role for him."
Another thing Jackson pointed to was how O'Neal decided to undergo surgery on his toe right before the 2002 season instead of immediately after the last season. O'Neal reasoned he should take company time off since he was injured on company time, which is something Bryant definitely didn't agree with. "I think the wedge between (Shaq and Kobe) was when Shaq opted not to get an operation until right before the season when he could have had it right after the season," Jackson said "That resulted in not allowing us to win four (championships) in a row in Kobe’s mind.”
Of course, Jackson's insight is always welcome, but does any of this news really surprise you?
[via Larry Brown Sports]