Shaquille O’Neal recently discussed how he blames his ego for requesting the sensational trade from LA Lakers to Miami Heat in 2004.
While discussing the greatest duos in the history of basketball, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are probably the first names that come to mind. Not only did the duo three-peat together, but they also did it with utter dominance, obliterating their competition every step of the way.
The chemistry wouldn’t last long, however, much to the dismay of fans around the league. The two suffered an acrimonious split in 2004, seeds of which had been sown as early as 1998. A clash of egos, as most sources reported, led to the issue compounding over time to the point of no return.
The timeline of the Laker dynasty had been cut short, and both legends have rued the turmoil on multiple occasions after finishing their careers.
While the insecurity had been brewing for a couple of years, the blowup in 2004 happened very quickly. Lakers had just come off a humiliating defeat at the hands of Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, even after adding the veteran presence of Karl Malone and Gary Payton.
The whole situation turned messy in a flash. Kobe wasn’t happy with the moves the Lakers wanted to make and disagreed with coach Phil Jackson’s offensive schemes. He started openly courting the LA Clippers for a potential trade, which was laid to rest only when the organization relented and let Shaq go to Miami. Phil Jackson was fired in the process as well.
Shaq was reportedly unhappy with the pay structure of the new deal offered to him by the Lakers in 2004.
During an interview with Showtime’s “All The Smoke” podcast, Shaq confirmed that salary was a big reason for his decision to request the trade, “But I was like, ‘Nah, I want 150 [million dollars]”.
He added that given the chance, however, he would like to do things differently. “I probably would have had a meeting with the [Buss] family ….. would’ve liked to have stayed there for the rest of my career. Kobe and I could have won like 7 [championships] together, definitely”
This is very surprising to hear, especially considering the success both Shaq and Kobe have had even after parting ways. Shaq lifted the Larry O’Brien for the 4th time in 2006 with the Miami Heat, while Kobe went on to repeat with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
The trade did come as a shock to the fans back then as we wanted to witness continued excellence from the duo. However, it’s comforting to see that both the superstars echo the popular sentiment as well.