“Shaquille O’Neal Had A Lot Of Hatred For Kobe Bryant”: Tex Winter Once Revealed How The Two Lakers Legends Felt About Each Other

Samir Mehdi
|Published March 31, 2023

Jerry West had one of the greatest offseasons by an executive in NBA history when he signed Shaquille O’Neal to a $120 million contract and traded for Kobe Bryant on draft night in 1996. West’s plan from the get-go was the pair the two together, having already felt as though the 17-year-old could be useful for the franchise.

Well, West was absolutely on the money with this prediction as merely 4 years into the tandem staying together, they would reach their first NBA Finals. And win. The 2000 Finals ended in 6 games with the Pacers being a win away from winning a title.

The Los Angeles Lakers, with Shaq and Kobe at the helm, would win two more titles straight, becoming just the third franchise in league history to 3-peat. Of course, this success didn’t come without its trials and tribulations.

Also read: “Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal Did it Last”: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Join Legendary Lakers Duo With Rare 30-Point Game Feat

Tex Winter on Shaquille O’Neal and his feelings towards Kobe Bryant

Tex Winter was the mastermind behind the triangle offense that the Chicago Bulls instituted to help get the ball out of Michael Jordan’s hands. Phil Jackson and Tex worked closely to get a knack of the triangle offense and when Phil went to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, Tex would follow him.

In his time with the Lakers, Winter would notice that Shaquille O’Neal was starting to feel a certain type of way towards Kobe Bryant. He would go on to say, “There was a lot of hatred in O’Neal’s heart. Kobe just took it and kept going.”

This was the same season that Shaq would start to express his distaste for the way Kobe played. He would host a meeting in the locker room for Lakers players and the coaching staff, calling the Lower Merion alum out for being a selfish player.

Phil Jackson would go on to side with Bryant to an extent, claiming he wasn’t trying to be selfish. He was just playing the way he felt as though would be the best for them to win at the highest level.

The Lakers chose Kobe Bryant over Shaquille O’Neal

After losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2003 Western Conference Semis and the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, the Lakers needed a change. Bringing in Gary Payton and Karl Malone didn’t do much to push the needle in their favor and on top of it all, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had reached a breaking point.

During the 2004 offseason, the Lakers had to choose between who they wanted to keep. Shaq was already told by the front office, Jerry Buss in particular, that he would likely not get chosen to stay along with Phil Jackson.

Kobe, the younger half of the dynamic duo, was signed to a new contract and Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in a deal centered around Lamar Odom. Shaq would go on to win a title just two years later alongside Dwyane Wade in Miami.

Also read: “He Was Not like Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant”: Tim Duncan Was Once Famously Touted To Be The Face Of The NBA

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About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is an NBA Editor at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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