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Shaq says Kobe, sexual assault case blew apart Lakers

Oct 31, 2011, 3:01 PM EDT

Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers Getty Images

The reports of any truce between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal have been greatly exaggerated. Actually, where there any such reports?

Now that he is out of the game, Shaq has a new tell all book coming out: Shaq Uncut: My Story. Jackie MacMullan did the writing and it comes out Nov. 15. We like her and Shaq spins a good yard — even if the truth is stretched like taffy — so it should make an interesting combination.

Deadspin got some excerpts, including the parts where Shaq says Kobe’s Colorado sexual assault charges blew up the three-peat Lakers. And where Shaq threatened to kill Kobe. (Go read the whole thing, you want to see the part where young Kobe says he’s “going to be the Will Smith of the NBA.”)

So I’m on edge because I don’t have I don’t have a new deal, and Kobe is on edge because he might be going to jail, so we’re taking it out on each other. Just before the start of the ’03-’04 season the coach staff called us in and said, “No more public sparring or you’ll get fined.” … Phil was tired of it. Karl Malone and Gary Payton were sick of it. … So what happens? Immediately after that Kobe runs right out to Jim Gray and does this interview where he lets me have it. He said I was fat and out of shape. He said I was milking my toe injury for more time off, and the injury wasn’t even that serious. (Yeah, right. It only ended my damn career.) He said I was “lobbying for a contract extension when we have two Hall of Famers playing pretty much for free.” I’m sitting there watching this interview and I’m gonna explode. Hours earlier we had just promised our coach we’d stop. It was a truce broken. I let the guys know, “I’m going to kill him.”


Kobe stands up and goes face-to-face with me and says, “You always said you’re my big brother, you’d do anything for me, and then this Colorado thing happens and you never even called me.” I did call him. … So here we are now, and we find out he really was hurt that we didn’t stand behind him. That was something new. I didn’t think he gave a rat’s ass about us either way. “Well, I thought you’d publicly support me, at least,” Kobe said. “You’re supposed to be my friend.”

Brian Shaw chimed in with “Kobe, why would you think that? Shaq had all these parties and you never showed up for any of them. We invited you to dinner on the road and you didn’t come. Shaq invited you to his wedding and you weren’t there. Then you got married and didn’t invite any of us. And now you are in the middle of this problem, this sensitive situation, and now you want all of us to step up for you. We don’t even know you.” …

Everyone was starting to calm down when I told Kobe, “If you ever say anything like what you said to Jim Gray ever again, I will kill you.”

Kobe shrugged and said, “Whatever.”

Shaq deserves some of the blame for that Lakers team breaking up, too. And not just because he ran down the court at a preseason game yelling “pay me” at owner Jerry Buss (although that didn’t help).

That was Shaq’s locker room at the time and Kobe was the brash young kid. Shaq needled Kobe, pushed on him and Phil Jackson sided with Shaq because in the end he needed the locker room and the veterans to win. That just exacerbated the issues. (When Jackson returned to the Lakers and it was Kobe’s locker room, Jackson patched up that relationship because he needed Kobe.) Shaq was not mature and accommodating, he was Shaq. He helped push that divide. When their contracts came up it was going to be one or the other, and Buss had no choice but to go with the guy who was younger and had the better work ethic.

But the part about Kobe keeping those guys at arm’s length? Spot on. And the team didn’t like it.

And Shaq still doesn’t, apparently.

  1. edmazeing1 - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    WoW makes you see Kobe in a whole new light, you dont have to take shaq words. but I belive Brian shaw, basically Kobe only cares about Kobe!!!

    • sonofsambowie - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

      Nah. Don’t fall for Shaq’s revisionist nonsense. This is a guy who needled Kobe in the press and behind his back for years on end, and in the midst of his trial and everything else that was going on Kobe finally, for once, fired back at Shaq.

      O’Neal has made a career of politicking and burning bridges everywhere he’s been. It’s a fact.

      • illegalblues - Oct 31, 2011 at 6:26 PM

        yeah, i don’t really trust anything coming out of shaq’s mouth. the guy could run a senate campaign

    • cosanostra71 - Oct 31, 2011 at 8:13 PM

      Kobe may only care about Kobe, but Shaq also only cares about Shaq.

      • florida727 - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:58 AM

        One word: EGO. It’s what ruins most professional teams in the end.

  2. mgscott - Oct 31, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    Shaq, please go away with the rest of the NBA.

  3. zblott - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:02 PM

    This would be news if Phil Jackson hadn’t written a whole book in 2004 detailing how Kobe ripped that dynasty apart.

    • sonofsambowie - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:07 PM

      Except that isn’t what happened.

      • zblott - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:30 PM

        Except it is.

      • cordae - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:05 PM

        Right. I mean what does Phil, the guy whose coached all but two of Kobes years, know?

        Shut up.

  4. sonofsambowie - Oct 31, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Nah. Nothing but revisionist nonsense. Shaq lost a power struggle for control of the team, plain and simple, and his years of propaganda and backbiting towards Kobe caused the rift before any of the assault stuff happened. Go read Mark Heisler’s book or something, or this.

  5. dismayed1992 - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Books only sell if they are outrageous enough to get all these comments…. Being an Oregonian, and therefor a Blazers fan, can’t say that this feud matters much…. That being said, the main reason for watching the Lakers was alway Kobe. He was amazing to watch and if you watch the game and the talent who cares about all the crap in the players private lives? The losers just use it to divert attention from their poor ball performances.

  6. meaz23 - Oct 31, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    Kobe is the prima donna we all thought he was. He’s just an a$$hole.

  7. diablito0402 - Oct 31, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Its ok zblott, kobe ended that dynasty and started another, superstars can do that,, kobe hands down second best player in history period..

  8. rreducla1 - Oct 31, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Gosh, Zach, you said on your blog that you weren’t a KobeHater. By the way, how many comments are you averaging per post since your last Kobe post?


    Kurt is pretty even-handed about this. What happened is on both of them as well as on Phil and on ownership. Two guys with gigantic egos, etc.

    And it’s old news.

  9. Best kept secret - Oct 31, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    ” kobe.. tell me how my a$$ tastes”

  10. ibchuck33 - Oct 31, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Kobe the second best player ever? What Halloween hash are you smoking? Were you born in 1993?

  11. mondzy805 - Oct 31, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    I love this stuff. I’m no Lakers fan but I’m from So Cal and their was a Vibe, that was truly special. Even I must say, the Staples Center started the new LA. When they build Farmers Field next door, Downtown LA is gonna be the place to be.

  12. Dan M. - Nov 1, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    “where there” and spins a “good yard”? PBT is behind the curve on editing – take a second and proofread these posts!

  13. ezwriter69 - Apr 29, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    It is not a coincidence that Shaq’s jersey wasn’t retired until Jerry B. died…or that he chose Shaq as the one to get rid of when the excrement hit the rotary air circulation device. Best judge of a man in sports since Branch Rickey, and it took him about ten seconds to choose between the two.

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