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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Shaq Versus Kobe (Again)

Just when you thought the "Shaq-Kobe feud" was over...

I'm not going to link to Shaq's recent "rap" about Kobe Bryant, Patrick Ewing and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; I'm sure that you either have already seen it or can easily find it if you are so inclined. Isn't it interesting that Shaq dissed Hall of Fame centers Abdul-Jabbar and Ewing but that the media is more interested in reviving the played out "Shaq-Kobe feud" than highlighting Shaq's hypocrisy? This is a guy who repeatedly says that he respects the game's history and yet he never hesitates to trash some of the greatest big men ever. Remember how Shaq tried to manufacture a beef with David Robinson?

The two main reasons that Shaq and Kobe did not get along when they were teammates are: (1) Shaq was jealous of the attention that Kobe got right off of the bat because Shaq is an insecure person who wants to constantly hear people praising him for his greatness; (2) Kobe has a fanatical work ethic and he demands no less of his teammates, while Shaq has a much more laid back attitude, meaning that their approaches are fundamentally incompatible.

Here are a few other points to consider:

1) Neither Shaq nor Kobe was completely flawless during their "feud" when they were teammates but Shaq has consistently been the one who has publicly spoken out. What is the worst thing that Kobe has said about Shaq publicly? He said--after Shaq delayed his toe surgery and came back out of shape during a time when Kobe was stringing together 40 point games--that if Shaq wants to get the ball in the post then he needs to get in shape and run down court because Kobe was not going to slow down to wait for him; Shaq famously responded by saying that if the big dog is not "fed" (the ball) then he won't "guard the house" (play defense in the paint). Note the contrast: Kobe is frustrated at Shaq's lack of conditioning and wants him to--literally--get his butt in gear, while Shaq answers by threatening to not play hard if he does not get his way. Wonder if that sounds vaguely familiar to any Miami Heat fans?

2) Unless you were there or are really, really confident in taking certain Colorado law enforcement officials at their word, you have no idea what Kobe did or did not say about Shaq five years ago. However, in his "rap" Shaq basically brags about having extramarital affairs while saying that Kobe's alleged comments caused Shaq's divorce, which is an odd charge considering the time lag between the two events. Frankly, neither Shaq nor Kobe look like candidates for husband of the year but at least Kobe publicly apologized for his conduct and is not bragging about it.

3) Consider how many people Shaq has befriended to their faces only to later publicly ridicule: Penny Hardaway, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and, of course, Kobe Bryant.

4a) Shaq should be careful when he brings up the subject of who could "do without" whom. There have been just eight NBA Finals sweeps in six decades but O'Neal was victimized in one of them (1995) and would have suffered a second one in 2004 if Kobe had not hit a game-saving three pointer and then dominated the overtime session in game two. Shaq's teams have been swept out of the playoffs six times (1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2007), which certainly contradicts Shaq's self-serving "Most Dominant Ever" proclamations. The "Most Dominant Ever" can't get even one win in six different playoff series? Shaq has a 1-8 record in his last nine playoff games and, although I certainly don't think that he is primarily responsible for Phoenix' first round ouster this season, it is worth noting that the Suns went further in the playoffs without him the past several years than they did with him this year.

4b) If Shaq had not benefited from having two Hall of Fame coaches and two All-NBA guards then he would have zero rings instead of four. That's not a knock on Shaq per se--every great player needed help to win a championship--but just a reality check: instead of bragging about what a great teammate he is and saying who couldn't "do without" whom, Shaq should act as if he understands how much teamwork really goes into winning a championship and how fortunate he is that he was able to be in those situations during his career.

4c) We all know that Shaq won the Finals MVP each of the three times that Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to championships. However, one player--no matter how great--cannot win a championship singlehandedly and Shaq could not have "done without" several great performances by Kobe during each of those title runs. For example:

*June 4, 2000: Kobe led the Lakers in scoring (25 points), rebounds (11), assists (7) and blocked shots (four) in their 89-84 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the Western Conference Finals.

*June 14, 2000: Kobe scored 28 points in game four of the NBA Finals, including 14 points in the fourth quarter and eight points in overtime. Kobe had the game-winning offensive rebound/put back. Shaq had a big game but he fouled out and it fell upon Kobe to save the day. Afterwards, teammate Derek Fisher said of Kobe, "I was watching what he did tonight and I was thinking about those old NBA classic films, Magic and Kareem and others just taking over games in the Finals. Tonight, he took a chapter right out of their book."

*May 13, 2001: Kobe led the Lakers with game-high totals in points (48) and rebounds (16) in a 119-113 win over the Sacramento Kings in the clinching game of a 4-0 sweep.

*May 19, 2001: In their next game, Kobe led the Lakers with 45 points and had 10 rebounds (one fewer than Shaq) in a 104-90 game one win over the San Antonio Spurs.

*June 8, 2001: After losing game one of the Finals at home, the Lakers needed to win game two to avoid heading back to Philadelphia facing a huge uphill climb. Shaq certainly did his part (28 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists, eight blocked shots) but would the Lakers have won a close game (98-89) without Kobe's 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists? The difference between the Lakers and Sixers was that the Lakers had two stars while the Sixers only had one (Allen Iverson).

*2002 NBA Finals: Kobe averaged 26.8 ppg on .514 field goal shooting plus 5.8 rpg and a team-high 5.3 apg. Yes, Shaq was dominant in the middle (36.3 ppg, 12.3 rpg) but do the Lakers win that series without having two stars playing well? The six times that Shaq has been swept show pretty conclusively that without enough help Shaq can't "do" much in terms of winning playoff series, let alone championships.

5) Many Asian Americans were deeply offended by Shaq's comments about Yao Ming in 2003.

6) While Shaq has backtracked and said that his rap was "all done in fun," the Maricopa County (Arizona) sheriff's office has asked that Shaq give back his special deputy's badge. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, "I want his two badges back. Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they're fired. I don't condone this type of racial conduct."

7) I will be very surprised if Kobe does anything other than take the high road and laugh this whole thing off.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:13 PM

12 comments

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12 Comments:

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 8:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Shaq has shown just how petty he is. But the national media (mostly ESPN and Yahoo) is also just as equally bad in only highlight the Kobe/Shaq feud and actually condoning Shaq's backpedaling.

Well, as Bill Walton says it the best:

"Shaq’s arrogance is an insult to those who think!"

 
At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

that was comedy shaq is a funny dude he is not better than kareem or though ewing no shaq. shaq is so funny it is comedy last week kobe couldnt do without me. this is his last hurrah kobe on the up he on the down. shaq won the 4 rings t kobe 3 and was by far best player on 3 championship teams but it's time for shaq to move on from this now and go on to retirement he shouldnt of diss kareem we know kobe snitched on him already. i had a visectimy now i cant breed them. lol kobe cool and all shaq is just funnier you know shaq was going to say something kobe wont respond he might score 50 all 4 games next year.

bottomline shaq has no career kobe still does this type of stuff get shaq publicity now because he is not good enough as a player anymore he did his thing already as a player it's time to let it go. that was still funny he is one of my favirote players all time for real.

 
At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 10:25:00 AM, Anonymous DHSmd said...

Well put. I've posted repeatedly about my issues with Shaq, of which this episode is merely another minor illustration. Example here:
http://forums.lakersground.net/viewtopic.php?p=1768406&highlight=#1768406

One minor difference with your opinion: while I agree with your expectations of Kobe's non-reaction to this whole scene, I'm not sure I'd call it the "high road." More like the "normal adult road".

The "high road" might entail going out of his way to kind of smooth shaq's path, and excuse or minimize his behavior in some other way - an act that is neither necessary nor expected. Ignoring it is analogous to ignoring the tantrum of a frustrated two year old.

 
At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 12:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaq just showed how ignorant he is, and how racist he is also. He needs to stop using words like white boy and N-word. If he is endorsing my product, I would think twice before having him sell my product. His rap showed his jealously toward Kobe and other basketball greats which shows that he is in secure about his legacy. Those who think this is funny are wrong it's really sad to see Shaq reveal his real self, an insecure racist.

 
At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:14:00 PM, Anonymous froni said...

Thanks for providing some more insight with the whole Shaq vs Kobe feud. I've been a Laker fan since I was young, but never really understood what was going on behind the scenes. Only means was through the mass media, but now we have people like you. Keep up the good work!

 
At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 11:08:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

DHSMD:

A few years ago when I interviewed Kobe he said that the truth always comes out eventually and I think that more people are slowly starting to understand what really went on with Shaq and Kobe. Shaq has been jealous and petty in his interactions with Kobe right from the start. It is interesting to see the contrast in how Kobe interacts with guys like Bynum, Vujacic and Farmar. Kobe's only problem with those guys was when they weren't working hard enough but he has embraced them as teammates and willingly reduced his shot attempts when they stepped up and showed that they were ready to produce. Kobe is delighted to have teammates who can carry some of the load, but Shaq wanted everything to revolve around him, even when he wasn't in shape. Shaq didn't figure out that it was time for him to be the second option until he landed in Miami. Shaq could have won several more titles with Kobe instead of being fortunate to get just one with Wade.

The current Lakers team with Kobe as the leader is much more close knit and harmonious than the Lakers were when Shaq was the big dog who essentially forced everyone to make an artificial choice between him and Kobe instead of more sensibly taking after Kobe's fanatical work ethic.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:44:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

why would shaq be jealous of kobe? more people like shaq then kobe he has had a better career than kobe so far i dont know why shaq would be jealous of him for he was number 1 kobe number 2 jordan wasnt jealous of pippen it makes no sense.


That was crazy what shaq said he as always been one of my favirote players e just messing with kobe it just shaq being shaq erica dampier big arystole bill walton breaking the big man code im the baddest 36 year old in the world. kareem might be better oh yeah he played with magic and big o i wonder how many rings he would have without magic wilt had jerry west bill cunningham oh yeah bill ruseel i believe had some guy name bob cousy so him haveing good guards hardly a bad thing they needed him more than he needed them.

kobe was right shaq was out of shape at times and has always had a problem with his weight. i think shaq should of dedicated himself more to the game in tat regard he as always been a party animal and big guy.

why he dissed patrick ewing is mind boggling even though ewing was no shaq karrem used to kill shaq before he won championships so it's not a stunner he would take a barb at him. he has never respected kareem like wilt and ruseell i remeber in 98 he said e would beat kareem 10-0 in one on one in his hay lol no he wouldnt but that what he said.

im a shaq fan i like kobe too i think they should of been able towork out tere diffrence this back and forth is petty especially on shaq part.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 4:10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

also shaq got swept six times all in 90's not once in 2000 but 07 he still got teams to conference finals he just ran into better teams. no finals kobe has ever really dominated if you ask kidd iverson chris webber and every other team they played in finals or in the playoffs the championship years shaq clearly the reason they won kobe was great player but when you get 36 12 33 38 in 3 finals in middle that is dominant kobe as been subpar in most finals including last one.

not a kobe hater facts are facts kobe still is best player in league with lebron james if i had to pick one of the two i would take the kobe slighly over lebron. i see you really dont like shaq too much but kobe wasnt a great teamate either during that time they both too blame not just shaq.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:09:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Froni:

There has been a lot of disinformation about Shaq and Kobe for years but I think that people are starting to see the truth.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:23:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

You sound like a regular commenter named Reggie.

What difference does it make when Shaq got swept? He has proclaimed himself to be the MDE, the Most Dominant Ever--yet he has played in six different series in which his team did not win a single game.

I clearly said that Shaq played very well in the series that his team won but what is the excuse for the MDE being swept SIX times? Were the 2007 Bulls--with a roster that did not even make the playoffs in 2008--a "better team" than the defending champion Heat? You are just making excuses for Shaq.

Kobe was hurt in the 2000 Finals, missing all of one game and most of another yet he made the key plays in the fourth quarter and overtime of game four after Shaq fouled out. So Kobe had a big impact despite being hurt and despite what the boxscore numbers say. As I pointed out in the post, Kobe outscored, outrebounded and outblocked Shaq in game seven of the WCF that year and if the Lakers had not won that game then they obviously would not have been in the Finals.

Kobe averaged 24.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 5.8 apg in the 2001 Finals. He was second to Shaq in scoring, second in rebounding (as a shooting guard!) and led the Lakers in assists. There is no way that the Lakers win that series without Kobe.

Kobe averaged 26.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 5.3 apg in the 2002 Finals. He was again second on the team in scoring and first in assists. The Lakers don't win that series without his contributions.

Keep in mind that in addition to scoring, rebounding and passing Kobe was also the top perimeter defender on those teams and one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. He is also an excellent free throw shooter, meaning that in close games the Lakers went to him, not Shaq, when they needed a score late in the game.

I agree that Shaq and Kobe both could have acted better when they were teammates but Kobe was fresh out of high school while Shaq was a vet. Shaq should have been setting a good example instead of acting out of petty jealousy. Look at how Kobe leads his young team now: it's all business and there is no petty feuding.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

I can't speak for the other commenter but the "racist" remark that got Shaq in trouble with the various departments that want their badges back is his use of the "N" word.

Jackson's 2004 book was a diary that contained his spur of the moment thoughts. He later said that on further reflection not everything that he wrote was completely accurate and he apologized to Kobe for some things. That is the book in which Jackson called Kobe "uncoachable" and yet Jackson just coached Kobe to an MVP and a Finals appearance, which basically refutes Jackson's words.

The whole thing about Kobe getting Shaq traded is played out.

Kobe denied it.

Buss denied it.

Jackson denied it.

Shaq has publicly denied it.

So you can give that one up.

How do you know what Kobe said in Colorado? Were you there?

Kobe led the Lakers in assists during the title runs, so who do you think was getting the ball to Shaq in the first place? Kobe never said he wanted his "own" team; he said that he wanted Shaq to get his fat butt into shape.

By 2003/2004, Kobe was already at least as good if not better than Shaq but Shaq was too stubborn and too proud to play on a team with Kobe as the leading scorer. Shaq knew the right thing to do--he did it with Wade--but he could not stomach doing it with Kobe because he was always jealous of Kobe.

 
At Thursday, June 26, 2008 7:04:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marcel:

Shaq was jealous of Kobe because he is an insecure person who wants to be constantly told how great he is. He resented Kobe right from the start, as Roland Lazenby and others have documented. Tex Winter and other people who were there have talked about this repeatedly. One of the brilliant psychological things that Coach Jackson did is to keep building Shaq up and assuring him that the team was centered around him (literally and figuratively). Winter was critical of Shaq's conditioning and poor defense but Jackson almost always played the "good cop."

Shaq dissed Ewing and Kareem for the same reason that he dissed Kobe and for the same reason that he did not get along with Kobe when they were teammates: Shaq is jealous and insecure, even when objectively he has no reason to feel that way. It's not about whether Shaq is better or more popular than a given player; it's about Shaq craving more approval. This aspect of his personality has been well documented but many media members choose not to emphasize it.

I don't dislike Shaq. He can be funny at times and he certainly has had a great career. I just think that he should have worked harder during his prime years and he should have looked at Kobe as a guy who could help him win 5-6-7 rings and not as someone who was taking shine away from him. Kareem has six rings and no one talks about whether he was old or young or how many points he scored each time; Shaq could have won that many rings or more if he would have stayed in shape and accepted the reality that Kobe would have been the leading scorer for the last two-three championships that they could have won together. Instead, Shaq got one ring with Wade and his last two years have been an embarrassment, with one playoff win in nine games.

 

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