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Kobe says even 2004 title could not have kept Shaq/Kobe Lakers together

Jul 16, 2012, 5:59 PM EDT

Lakers v Nets Getty Images

It was the conventional wisdom at the time that if the Lakers had won the 2004 NBA title — they lost in the finals to the Detroit Pistons and their stifling defense — that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal would have stuck it out together to chase more titles. The “winning cures all ills” theory.

Kobe says not so fast.

Speaking with Yahoo’s Graham Bensinger in a must-watch interview for Kobe fans, the star said it was over when he heard chatter out of Shaq’s camp that Kobe couldn’t win without Shaq.

“It just wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t in the cards,” Bryant said. “There’s things that I wanted to do with my career and take my career to another level, that I was just incapable of doing as long as we were playing together….

“It just wasn’t going to work, so no matter what happened, even if we had won that championship, me being a free agent, there was just no way.”

Kobe took — and in some quarters still takes — some grief for breaking up those Lakers. But the fact is what Kobe did because he had the hammer of free agency was exactly what Shaq would have done if he had that hammer. They were done with it. Phil Jackson couldn’t keep them together. So Buss made the only logical choice and traded Shaq, convincing Kobe to re-sign. You always choose the younger player with the better work ethic and who took better physical care of himself.

Kobe also sounded sympathetic to the place Jackson was in with that three-peat team.

“The relationship between me and Shaq,” Kobe said. “Him having to deal with that relationship and kind of keeping me at arm’s distance so that, in turn, it can bring him closer to Shaq. And he was dealing with a young racehorse that wanted to get to an elite level very fast… we all three are very stubborn. “”

Kobe said his relationship with Jackson needed to be repaired when Phil came back to the Lakers. It was a matter of communication styles.

“I said, ‘Phil, if you want me to do something, just tell me.’” Kobe said. “He kind of likes subtly slipping messages in there. Where, for me, it’s like just tell me what it is you want. Don’t insult my intelligence by trying to backdoor in there.”

  1. therealhtj - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    To everyone who told me how wrong I was saying Kobe ran Shaq out of LA, this one’s for you:

    • tsi431 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      Shaq ran Shaq out of LA. He should of passed the baton on to the future (Kobe) and could of had more rings then fingers. In the end it worked out well for both sides.

  2. slopmcflop - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    That last line is what she said.

    • slopmcflop - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      Oh cmon man, grow up.

      • slopmcflop - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:25 PM

        Did you just reply to yourself?

    • mannyfresh209 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:22 PM

      We all know that by “she” you don’t mean anyone that you know personally.

  3. vilelabyrinth - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    just another egomaniac in pro sporta…and wow…got him good manny… LOL!!!

    • bchapman2011 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Sorry to break it to you but EVERY elite athlete is an egomaniac. To have that constant fire to win and be better than everybody else you have to have a huge ego. The only difference is some athletes hide it better than others. This is why everybody hates Lebron, His arrogance and ego are not bigger than any other superstar, but he makes no attempt to come off as humble.

  4. tonystrong - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Uh hello? Everyone knew that! Kobe was not playing with Shaq another year and he made that clear all season long. Read Phil Jackson’s book from that last season of Kobe and Shaq. He, along with many others did all they could to mend the relationship but Kobe was having none of it. Kobe was tired of being considered Shaq’s # 2 and either the Lakers were going to be his team or he was going to be the King of his team somewhere else. Lakers made the right decision, OBVIOUSLY but it doesn’t hide the fact that Kobe and Shaq probably both left a title or two together on the table and the chance to be called one of the greatest dynasty’s in NBA history as well. Kobe’s selfish. It’s half of what makes him great and half of what makes people want to punch his face in!

    • badintent - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:17 AM

      Great book . Your point is 100 % right on. Remember Shaq’s great rap after he won in Miami ? “Kobe won’t pass so now he can kiss my as* ” !

  5. imforbigblue - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    All I hear when bitch Kobe talks is “ME Me ME ME”

    • tsi431 - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:11 PM

      All I hear is “I gots a ring four each fengur”.

      • raidmagic - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        He has 10 rings? (9 if you don’t count thumbs…)

      • saint1997 - Jul 17, 2012 at 4:32 AM

        hahahha @raidmagic what messed up hicksville do you come from if that is your finger situation!

  6. sneezl - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    Um, Kobe? When Phil was trying to be subtle about things, he was complimenting your intelligence, not insulting it. Other than that, this is unsurprising news – if it had actually been the other way ’round, THAT would have been a surprise. Kobe is Kobe, Shaq is Shaq, and as a Laker fan I’m glad they managed to get those rings before their relationship imploded. And they’ve both managed to win a title (or more) apart from each other as well. So good for them.

  7. godfather8775 - Jul 16, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Growing up Shaq was my favorite player. At the time I didn’t like the decision but if I was management I would have done the same thing… You had a guard who was already good going into his prime and a center on the way down hill

  8. addict2sport - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Where’s all the f bombs in the quote? Kobe wasn’t feeling “hood” today?

    • dal24la - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      I don’t think Players/sober celebs typically curse a lot during professional interviews, especially long ones..

  9. niccstyles - Jul 16, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    8 if you don’t count the thumbs…. you have to be hood to cuss?

  10. imforbigblue - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Dude Kobe ain’t hood his bitch ass grew up in money and now he had to much and you know He lives like a king. I know a ton of white guys blacker than Kobe

  11. diamondmo33 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Everybody doesn’t hate lebron

  12. mrlitl - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    Raid magic has one thumb?

  13. dcdebacle - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    the interviewer, i believe his name is graham bensinger or such, has a weird plastic face and loopy eyes. just saw a promo for the interview and wouldn’t stop laughing. perfectly manicured hair/eyebrows and an eye that won’t stop starting at his own shoulder. how did kobe keep from laughing?

    • danfrommv - Jul 17, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      Because he isn’t in 7th grade anymore?

  14. loungefly74 - Jul 17, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    yeah…it still bums me out that those 2 knuckleheads couldn’t work things out…BUT then i completely understand their decisions when i think about the ex…

  15. rumar1989 - Sep 1, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    tony strong, why don’t you shutup, maybe you need someone to punch you in the face. you don’t talk about my favorite player in kobe, like that. you deserve to have someone knock you out, tony strong, how do you like that.

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