What was Kobe Bryant’s relationship with Shaquille O’Neal like during their time playing together?

What was Kobe Bryant’s relationship with Shaquille O’Neal like during their time playing together?

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s Relationship

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were two of the biggest stars in the NBA during their time playing together on the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2004. Despite the team’s tremendous success on the court, their relationship was far from perfect.

Early Relationship

When Kobe was traded to the Lakers in 1996, Shaq was already an established star in the league. He was a few years older than Kobe and served as a mentor. In the early days of Kobe’s career, Shaq was generous with his advice and sharing his knowledge with the young player.

Conflict and Clashes

Although they had a good relationship in the early years, it changed as Kobe began to learn and develop as a player. Shaq felt that Kobe was trying to take the spotlight away from him and resented the attention that Kobe was getting. The two had many disagreements on the court and in the locker room and the tension between them was obvious.

Diverging Paths

Eventually the friction between Kobe and Shaq became too great and the duo split ways. Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat and Kobe remained with the Lakers. They both went on to have successful individual careers but were never able to fully resolve their issues.


Despite their differences, Kobe and Shaq were able to recognize and appreciate each other’s greatness. After Kobe’s tragic death in 2020, Shaq took the time to reflect on the relationship they had, saying “The most important thing is that we won three championships and that’s a legacy we can both be proud of”


Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s relationship was complex and tumultuous. They had their fair share of disagreements and tension, but also had mutual respect and appreciation for each other. They were able to overcome their differences to win three championships together, something they will both be remembered for.

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