Cover Image for 18 y/o Kobe Bryant tried to dupe Shaquille O’Neal with rehearsed raps on Lakers bus rides

18 y/o Kobe Bryant tried to dupe Shaquille O’Neal with rehearsed raps on Lakers bus rides

Samir Mehdi
|Tue Aug 16 2022

Kobe Bryant wanted to fit in so bad that he rehearsed riffs and tried to pass them off as freestyles to Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers. 

Kobe Bryant had the utmost confidence in his ability to be one of the greats right from the jump. He certainly was headed in that directions the moment he stepped foot on NBA hardwood. He had his father, Joe Bryant’s genes, connections to players in the league, experience against players much older than him, and something about that purple and gold seemed to nurture superstar talent. 

Bryant’s confidence however, superseded his abilities at times. He shot 4 straight airballs from beyond the arc in a Playoff game his rookie season and left the court with his head held high, knowing he knew if given the opportunity again, he would not change what he did out on the court. 

This is just one example of how Kobe Bryant went about with his life. The first 8 years of his career were alongside the most dominant figure in NBA history who just so happened to have his prime in those 8 years and this was still not enough for Bean to give up ‘alpha dog’ status to Shaquille O’Neal. 

An anecdote that perfectly describes a budding rivalry between the two is one from ‘The Icons Club’.

Also read: 7’0″ Shaquille O’Neal is a Hall of Famer but his kids prefer Kobe Bryant and LeBron James

Kobe Bryant would practice bars but claim they were freestyles. 

Like school, the back of the bus was where the fun happened. For the 1996-97 Los Angeles Lakers, this was no different. Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the Lakers would be posted up in the back spitting rhymes with ‘The Big Aristotle’ doing most of the heavy lifting due to him having a platinum selling album in the mid 90s named ‘Shaq Diesel’. 

A young, 18 year old Kobe Bryant saw this and wanted to not only participate but also be the best in the group at freestyles. So, according to Jackie MacMullan on ‘The Icons Club’, he went to work. He would spend nights penning his bars down and when the opportunity came about, Bryant went off. 

The second Kobe finished his riff, everybody on the Lakers knew he had rehearsed it prior and clowned on him for it, with the Lower Merion alum pleading his case. “We would rap off the top and he [Kobe] would come back with these big words and we’re looking at him like, ‘That’s not a freestyle’.” 

This ‘event’ is a great microcosm of the relationship Kobe Bryant had with the rest of his Lakers brethren. Wanting to fit in but eventually isolating himself to work on his craft was how ‘The Black Mamba’ spent those 8 years in LA before becoming the undeniable leader of a back-to-back title winning squad.

Also read: Kobe Bryant made $1.028 Billion during his career, way before any investment and venture capitalism


About the author
Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Covering everything from Wilt Chamberlain's offensive goaltending games in 1962 to Ja Morant's points in the paint absurdity in 2022.

Read more from Samir Mehdi