Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant left on an ugly note after the 2003-04 season which caused Shaq to leave the Lakers for the Miami Heat.
The Lakers stars, despite winning three straight championships, repeatedly had issues with each other. From Kobe not liking Shaq’s casual work ethic and Shaq not liking Kobe’s hard-nosed attitude, the superstars found plenty to be mad at each other for.
That ultimately led to the Lakers being in a difficult situation where they had to choose between their two stars. On one hand, you had Shaq, who was a proven legend and was the biggest reason Los Angeles won their three titles from 2001-2003.
On the other, you had a much younger athlete, who was just coming into his own as he realized his potential to become one of the greats of the game. The Lakers chose Kobe and Shaq was traded to the Heat.
— SI Vault (@si_vault) July 26, 2017
Shaquille O’Neal Took Shots At Kobe Bryant Following His First Matchup With The Lakers Since Being Traded
The first game between the Heat and Lakers was a spectacle to watch. Everyone was excited by the prospect of Shaq potentially getting revenge against his former team or Kobe proving that he was the real deal and that the Lakers did right by believing in him.
Both stars got their narratives in a way. The battle was tightly contested and you can tell that both Kobe and Shaq had something to prove.
Shaq would put up a casual double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. However, he would foul out in the fourth quarter as the game headed to overtime.
Ultimately, the Heat secured the win after Kobe couldn’t make a game winning three at the buzzer, however, the ‘Black Mamba’ did everything he could, scoring 42 points in the loss.
Shaq had a different take to his crazy outing, saying:
“I knew that it wasn’t going to go in because my team came out they played well. I fouled out, I felt I let them down a little bit but ‘flash’ Eddie Jones told me they had it. That’s why we wanted to come here and win. We’re not trying to score 50 or 60 points trying to outdo anybody, we just want to play good team ball. And that’s what we did today.”
You can tell that the beef was still very much in place. You can watch the full highlights of the game here: