Shaquille O'Neal Says That His Feud With Kobe Bryant Was Intentionally Fueled By Phil Jackson

Were The Shaq/Kobe Fights All Just A Scheme By Phil Jackson?

11/15/08 in NBA   |   Pat   |   5234 respect

Remember the feud between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant? It started off as tolerable, and they still won championships, but it seemed to grow and grow until it became inevitable that they had to part ways. It later escalated into Shaq's infamous "Tell me how my ass tastes" free style rap.

 How was this rift between teammates allowed to go on like this? According to Shaq's interview with the Sacramento Bee, Phil Jackson was at least partially responsible.

"I think it was all designed by Phil. Because if you think about it, Phil never called us into the office and said, ''Both of you all, shut the hell up.'' Never did that in four years. He knew that when I read something, I was going to get upset. And he knew Kobe was going to always come out and play hard. So I think it was all done by design ... But while we were trying to out-do each other, the two best players in the game, we're out-doing everyone by far."

Shaq basically believes that by not making more of an effort to squash the beef between his two star players, Phil Jackson essentially encouraged it to happen, in an effort to keep his team fired up and avoid complacency.

Far be it from me to question the Zen Master, a coach with 9 championship rings. But one has to wonder if perhaps that could have been 10 or 11 rings, if he had known when to draw the line. The proverbial fire that he kept lit under Shaq and Kobe produced great dividends. But what if there had been a way to salvage their friendship and keep them together in LA? Instead of winning another title in Miami with Dwyane Wade, Shaq may have won another in LA with Kobe, and Phil Jackson would have the same problem as Bill Russell; too many rings, not enough fingers.

Is it a definite that a different approach could have brought more success to the Lakers? We'll never know. In his last year with the Lakers, Shaq saw the team lose badly to the Pistons in the NBA Finals, Perhaps that was a bigger reason for his departure than a simple feud with his superstar teammate. But what if Phil Jackson had done things a little differently and somehow managed to keep both players in LA? W'll always wonder.

Shaquille O'Neal: My Fights With Kobe Bryant Were Orchestrated by Phil Jackson [SacBee] Via [True Hoop]
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11/16/08   |   Tupps

Wouldnt surprise me at all. Phil has a weird way of handling his team. And it wont hurt Shaq to try to get on good terms with Kobe since he hasnt ruled out returning to the Lakers when his contract is up in Phoenix to get a few more rings.

11/15/08   |   WBKsports   |   366 respect

Having watched the entire saga unfold....I can tell you that this is old news....When I here SHAQ's words in the article, I am like, "NOOOO Really...." The ZEN Master knew what he was doing all along. The better SHAQ and Kobe and the Lakers got, the more NBA teams wanted to dethrone their legacy...Phil had to play these guys in the media like 2PAC and BIGGIE because he wanted to pull off the 4PT which has been done only by the Celtics. It worked to perfection coming to a head when SHAQ needed surgery on his toe in 2002, but waited until like September to get it fixed and the Lakers started off their quest for #4 with a record of 11-19....Even going 39-13 the rest of the way couldn't get the Lakers better than a #6 Seed that season....They were bounced by the Spurs and then the next season came the KOBE Drama in Denver and the Pistons trashing of the Lakers in the 2004 NBA FInals...My point is that Phil had no choice...These 2 were "ROCKSTARS" and needed the bar to be raised constantly...The truth: Just Like 2PAC and Biggie, THE MEDIA took down SHAQ and KOBE.

11/15/08   |   Heyhey1970   |   194 respect

It's hard to know if this is true, but Phil Jackson has always played mind-games with players.  So without knowing the entire situation in LA, it seems possible.  The difficult part is Shaq's credibility.  He's said so much that I don't know if I believe him.  What wasn't initially clear but became crystal clear by the end in Chicago is that Phil is out for Phil and will play games to get what he wants.