Shaq hilariously claimed that everybody from China to Yugoslavia will be hyping up the Heat’s game against the Lakers on NBA Christmas, 2004.
Shaq and Kobe Bryant shared the court together as teammates for straight seasons from 1996 to 2004. In this time, the two came into their own with O’Neal becoming an MVP and the ‘Black Mamba’ establishing himself as the premier offensive wing in the league.
They would go on to win three straight championships together but not without internal turmoil. It’s been well documented that neither Shaq nor Kobe were particularly fond of one another off the court, with them even nearly getting into a fistfight with each other during practice.
The 3x Finals MVP has admitted recently that he stirred the pot in front of the media for the sake of viewership so us NBA fans will never truly know how deep their ‘disdain’ for one another went.
As mentioned earlier, the duo split up after a 4-1 Finals loss to the Pistons in 2004. So, given their rich history together, their first meeting as foes would most certainly generate an insane amount of viewership.
Shaq on what it was like going into his first game against Kobe Bryant.
Shaq made his way to Los Angeles the same year Kobe Bryant was drafted and so they had never faced off against one another on NBA hardwood. Their Christmas Day game in 2004 would mark their first meeting as foes following the ‘Big Aristotle’s’ arrival in Miami.
Ahead of the matchup, Shaq was interviewed by Rachel Nichols about the hyped game against his former All-Star teammate. O’Neal said:
“They’re gonna hype it up. NBC is going to hype it up. ESPN is going to hype it up. China station gonna hype it up. Yugoslavia station is going to hype it up; and we’ll be the most televised game in the history of all sports.”
That game certainly lived up to the hype ratings wise as it was the most watched regular season game in nearly seven years, garnering over 13 million views on ABC alone.