On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers retired Shaquille O’Neal’s number 34 jersey to the rafters at Staples Center along with the other legendary players.
During his tenure with the Lakers, O’Neal won three consecutive championships and formed one of the greatest duos in NBA history with Kobe Bryant. Bryant and Shaq were an unstoppable force and teams never really had an answer for the two superstars. However, their era together came to an end in 2004 when the much reported feud caused the Lakers to split the two.
There was clearly animosity between Bryant and O’Neal and it was sad seeing the two champions become so separated. However, after O’Neal’s jersey retirement he spoke to the Los Angeles Times and said there was never a “real dislike” between him and Kobe.
“There’s two different types of dislike: there’s an athletic dislike and a real dislike. We never had a real dislike,” O’Neal said of Kobe Bryant. “Every time I see his lovely wife and his beautiful children, I always go to his children and say, ‘Hello babies, I’m uncle Shaq.'”
Even though Shaq and Kobe could have won more championships if they stuck together, they will still be seen as one of the greatest one-two punches this league has ever seen. The Lakers returned to their former glory thanks to those two and the great teams of the early 2000s will forever be remembered by Lakers fans.