“Kobe Bryant gave the 2009 co-MVP trophy to Shaquille O’Neal’s son!”: When Lakers legend buried the hatchet with former teammate by including Shareef O’Neal
|Fri Apr 29 2022
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal reunite in 2009 – five years after their infamous split
When the Lakers were winning their 3rd title in 3 years in 2002, nobody thought that 2 years later, their star duo would be at loggerheads. The egos started getting bigger by the day, and they finally came to the front when they started taking jabs at each other in press conferences. The Lakers front office decided to keep Byrant over O’Neal, a tough decision but one that was fair.
The now Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers called the relationship between O’Neal and Bryant the “biggest travesty in sports” because they should have stayed together and won at least five championships. A duo that could not be stopped seldom come together, and Shaq and Kobe were one of them.
So when they reunited in 2009 for the All-Star game, all eyes were on them. The game usually brings fanfare, but this one was watched with bated breath. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief once the first handshake occurred – it was muscle memory from thereon. So when it was time to award the All-Star MVP trophy, the commissioner decided to hand it over to both of them.
Both of them didn’t want to keep it, so Kobe handed it over to Shareef – Shaq finally let go of his beef. It could have been this very moment that changed their relationship for the good.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were like chalk and cheese for a long time – it only started getting better in their twilight years
After Kobe and Shaq split – the league breathed a sigh of relief. If they went on bickering, it would have been devastating for the franchise. But it also meant that one of the most successful duos of all time was separated. Their powers were halved, and they could be defeated easier.
For all their fights outside the court, they were immense on it. It seemed like the fights fueled them in some twisted way. While they were trying to outdo one another, they also uplifted each other and the team. They were in a marriage that didn’t work – but it kind of worked great too.
Once they started growing bald, and their egos started deflating, they realized their animosity stemmed from one common goal – to be successful. And successful they were because they are the only other modern team to do a 3-peat apart from the Chicago Bulls. If only they’d stayed longer together – the league could have seen a first 5 in a row since the Boston Celtics from the Bill Russell days.