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Kobe Bryant likes to remind Shaq who has more rings

Apr 2, 2013, 1:19 PM EDT

Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers Getty Images

When Kobe Bryant got ring number five, he couldn’t hide his glee at having more rings than his rival Shaquille O’Neal — he talked about it in his press conference minutes after the game ended.

Now, on the day the Lakers will retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey, Kobe told Marc Spears of Yahoo that he likes to remind the big man who has more hardware.

“I always remind him every time I see him,” Bryant, who’s won five championships with the Lakers, told Yahoo! Sports. “I saw him after the All-Star Game and said, ‘How you doing, ‘Four’ ?’ He said, ‘Oh, you [expletive].’ [Our relationship is] really good now. We have such a mutual respect for each other.”

It wasn’t that way for a long time.

Kobe was a budding superstar with a massive ego and chip on his shoulder. Shaq was the most dominant player in the NBA, bar none. Together they formed a powerhouse combo, but like Los Angeles itself it was always living on a fault line and an earthquake to knock it all down was just a matter of when, not if. Phil Jackson sided with Shaq because he had to — Shaq had the role-playing veterans on his side, he had the locker room.

Kobe took a lot of blame in some quarters for forcing the breakup of that team, but if Shaq had the free agency hammer he would have used it, too. Kobe had it, Jerry Buss had to choose and made the only logical call — the player seven years younger, entering his prime with a crazy-strong work ethic. It wasn’t really much of a choice, even if at the time a lot of Lakers fans didn’t get that (trust me, I had a Lakers blog back then, plenty thought the Buss family made the wrong call).

“It was inevitable,” Bryant said. “You can’t expect Michael [Jordan] to play with Wilt [Chamberlain] for his entire career. That’s just not going to work. I had too much talent and too much to showcase. And then there was a challenge issued by him about me not being able to win without him. That’s a challenge I couldn’t pass.

“But ultimately during those years I sacrificed a lot, numbers-wise, to play with him. The thing that always bothered me was people said, ‘Well, Kobe’s selfish.’ I’m not selfish. If I was selfish, I would have left. I gave up a lot to play with him.”

Time heals most wounds, and it did these as well. Kobe and Shaq are good now, there’s a respect as equals that was not there back in the day. Shaq’s ego wouldn’t let the Lakers become Kobe’s team, but he went to Miami where he did cede that to Dwyane Wade to win a ring. Shaq grew up, too.

Now they are all good. But that doesn’t mean the ribbing doesn’t stop.

  1. psung26 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    In the playoffs:

    20 pts and 9 rebs would be an off game.
    30 pts and 16 rebs a standard game.
    40 pts and 20 rebs a good one.

    Good for roughly 30 pts, 15 rebs, 2.5 blks overall in the championship runs.

    M.D.E.

    • GT - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      The last line has Chamberlain/Russel numbers, nobody does that anymore.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        They’re Shaq numbers too! In the 2000 NBA Finals, Shaq averaged 38 PPG on 61.1% shooting, 16.7 RPG and 2.7 BPG.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM

      Shaq was always fun to watch. As a Lakers fan, I wish that him and Kobe both could have put their egos aside for the sake of us basketball fans. They were an absolute delight to watch and one of the best pairings of basketball skills in NBA history. Shaq will be a HOFer and rightfully so. Same for Kobe. Even with their breakup they still were incredibly successful afterward, both winning championships, but I still wonder what could have been if they had been together another few years. One of the great “what ifs” of basketball.

  2. paulhargis53 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Bill Russell laughs at Kobes measly 5 rings.

    35 years old and he’s still acting like a child. Is it any wonder you people that worship him do the same?

    How many of you are going to cry when he retires? Yeesh.

    • skids003 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      You’re right dude. That massive ego has and never will go away. He’s lucky Shaq doesn’t squash him.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      I think anyone who is truly a basketball fan will be a bit sad when he retires. Just like we are when any all-time great retires. It leaves you wishing for more. I know I miss seeing Shaq play too.

  3. conjecture101 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    I like Kobe but that 2nd quote is delusional. Shaq would have dominated the league with or without him. Does he really think if he were on any other team but the Lakers during that period that he would have any hardware to show for it?

    • andrewproughcfe - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      @Kobe – “But ultimately during those years I sacrificed a lot, numbers-wise, to play with him.”

      By the same logic, he sacrificed a lot to play with Gasol and Bynum. He should just get an owner to surround him with 4 rebounders and try to jack up 81 points from the 3-point line by himself every night.

      I agree – it’s delusional to crow about his 5 rings, and then to act like the guy who got him 3 of those rings was some kind of anchor around his neck.

  4. misterdreamer119 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    He sacrificed, man this guys lucky he got traded to the lakers for vlade. Every generation wins rings with the lakers. Wish he would have stayed with charlotte.
    No rings just a ton of points. No phil jackson.
    He works super hard though.

  5. bgm9876 - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    how much does shaq have?

  6. ultichiva - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Kobe is da bess!!
    MJ was playin vs the likes of John Stockton .. Stock could not keep up with the likes of John wall, D rose, or wessbrook..
    Kobe puttin up 81 VS athletic freaks

    • bucrightoff - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      The Raptors? Lol no, nice try though.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        Regardless of the quality of the team it came against, there’s a reason only one person has scored more in a game before.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

        I get that, but he said athletic freaks. Maybe, maybe when the Raptors had VC and T-Mac, but certainly not when that 81 happened. Doesn’t discount from it, just don’t label that Raptors of 2006 athletic freaks, whose leading scorer in that game was…Mike James. Yes, the guy who’s now a Maverick and probably 70 years old.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        Fair enough. It was definitely a fanboy comment.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      I love Kobe, but come on. John Stockton is one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. Also an underrated athlete- deceptively quick and also extremely physical.

  7. 00maltliquor - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Shaq,Tell me how my rings taste- Kobe Bryant

    BTW, Shaq’s getting his jersey retired tonight against the Dallas Mavericks! I’m exicted.

  8. somekat - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    lol, “if i was selfish, I would of left”

    The first chance you had as a FA, you forced Shaq out…..self dilusion is a great thing

  9. ebrownwareagle - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    And he Wn 2 Rings W/O him. Shaq just One! And again people Haq had the opportunity to win with Penny Hardaway… Couldn’t get it done… Nick Van Excel, Eddie Jones…. Couldn’t get outdone UNTIL…. Bean Bryant took over the helm in the Backcourt! Ijs Shaq had played with several Good to Great guards yet Kobe has played with only ONE GREAT Big Man… And he still has the edge ring wise!

  10. monsterofyourgirlsmidway - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    @ ultichiva. You realize that Kobe and Jordan play the SG position, right? why are you comparing Jordan to group of present and past PG’s?

  11. money2long - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    this line sorta relates to the discussion on that was being had a few days ago in regards to when someone tried to criticize kobe for needing a few more seasons to inevitably pass jordan on the scoring list:

    “You can’t expect Michael [Jordan] to play with Wilt [Chamberlain] for his entire career. That’s just not going to work. I had too much talent and too much to showcase.”

    i think it would’ve taken jordan a bit longer to get to the point total he is at playing with shaq.

  12. nolanwiffle - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    “You can’t expect Michael to play with Wilt for his entire career.” Somehow Jerry and Elgin were able to co-exist with The Stilt in LA. Today’s athlete egos are so far overblown it’s laughable.

    • musician0785 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      and how many championships did Baylor, West and Elgin win?

      • musician0785 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        Wilt*

  13. paulhargis53 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Nolan: I agree 100%. Kinda like Cousy with Russell.Or Frazier and Bradley with Reed. I could go on. Its a team game and it used to not matter who was the star. Now its all about who gets the “credit”.
    Its sickening. To comment about rings to Shaw, like he was the ONLY reason for him having 5 is pathetic and speaks to the type of idiot he is. Kobe is good, but he is not in a league with the all time greats. He’s more worried about his personal place in history, nor his teams. He’s more worried about being able to “one up”people.,If he cared about titles so much, he wouldn’t have run off Shaq. Had he not done that, they’d have probably won alot more than 5.

    Asi: I get that. But you aren’t going to cry, right? There were fools on here saying how it was going to affect their personal lives. Good God. I like players and sports, but not enough to have it affect me personally.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      “There were fools on here saying how it was going to affect their personal lives.”

      I would hope their personal lives are more fulfilling than that.

    • musician0785 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      not in the league with all time greats, but has more points than Wilt with less shots than Jordan had we he passed Wilt….but yea he’s “not in a league with the all-time greats.” Magic freakin Johnson called him the greatest laker ever but he’s “not in a league with the all-time greats.” yea OK

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      WTF: I hit thumbs down but thumbs ups increased, too. Is PH53 really Kurt? Hey: you never know. Yeah, right.

      • Kurt Helin - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        No. I comment under my own name. I’m confident that way.

  14. andrejohnsonforpresident - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    they both miss the big picture. if shaq learns how to stay In shape an they figure out how to co-exsist. were talking 7+ rings a piece for both. buncha dummys

  15. rumar1989 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    somekat, and paulhargis53, it was time to build the team around kobe anyway. as it turned out
    it was the right decision, paul you said that if kobe cared about rings so much, he wouldn’t have forced shaq out. well like i said he wanted to stay with the lakers, and be the guy, and the lakers in
    the end chose kobe over shaq, it was becoming kobe’s team, and kobe vision was to still win titles, but this time as the leading man. somekat, 2004 was the first time kobe wanted to test free agency
    and see what was out there, sure everyone just about said that kobe forced shaq out, but like i said
    guys, the lakers just couldn’t build the team around a guy that had so many injuries, toe injuries, not
    being in shape as often. just wasn’t going to work. which is why dr. buss didn’t give him that extenson, cause it was time to eventually build the team around kobe, and as it turned out, as we all know, was the smart decision.

  16. elnogo - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    He didn’t got lucky with the trade. He said that if he wasn’t traded to the lakers he was going to go overseas.

  17. herlies - Apr 2, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    How did the Lakers win a Finals game when Kobe played only 9 minutes and scored only 2 points?

    4 letters….

    S.H.A.Q.

    40 points, 24 rebs

  18. michaeljordanseviltwin - Apr 2, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    I’ll settle this right now: who has more NBA Finals MVPs. That’s more important than rings. Robert Horry has seven rings, you idiots.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      He likes beer, I like beer, you like, she likes, we like, they like: BEER!

  19. necr0philia - Apr 2, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    And when MJ23 walks in the room he says “what’s up #5″ to Kobe and Kobe says in a depressed voice (like the donkey on Winnie the Pooh) ” F/U man I’ll catch your 6 some day”!!! Then MJ23 takes Kobe out back and beats him at 21 blindfolded. Then Kobe can’t take life anymore and flys to China to play ball with all the other failed NBA stars.To be continued…..

  20. jimeejohnson - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    In this case, one more IS a big deal. World championships mean a lot. But only Shaq and Peyton Manning get to advertise those Buicks. Kobe’s ads sell better in Europe and Asia, which means Kobe wins the Popularity($) contest. All these guys are way rich. They earned it.

  21. stephenolszewski - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    I understand Kobe played a big role in winning those rings but
    1. Those Lakers teams were stacked
    2. Phil Jackson as your coach is obviously a good thing
    3. If there’s no Shaq I don’t think Kobe has those rings besides the two he won without him
    4. Robert Horry and Derek Fisher that is all

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