During the Los Angeles Lakers’ run at three straight NBA titles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal leading the way, the two superstars rarely got along off the court. Although the dynamic duo was arguably the best one-two punch in the NBA during this time, the tension between the two ultimately resulted in an ugly breakup with the Lakers eventually trading Shaq to the Miami Heat in 2004.
Apparently, things got so heated during the Kobe-Shaq feud that O’Neal threatened to “kill” Bryant at one point and the four-time NBA champion doesn’t deny this. O’Neal said the following about the incident during the first episode of his new podcast, The Big Podcast:
“I probably told him I was going to kill him, and I’m sure everyday people say all the time ‘oh my God he didn’t send me the email I’m going to kill him.’ We had a special relationship, a relationship that I wouldn’t change. In my mind we’re the most controversial, the most enigmatic, greatest one-two punch the NBA will ever see. You know a lot of the things that went on were designed by me. Out of the 500 articles that were probably printed, I probably meant it in 10 of them.
So, did I say I was going to kill him? Yeah. Did I really want to kill him? No. Would I change how our relationship went? No. Never.”
Regardless of the friction between these Lakers legends, the duo led the franchise to three consecutive titles and thrust the team back into the spotlight after almost a decade following the Showtime era.
Arguably the best one-two punch in NBA history was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Jordan and Pippen won six titles together with the Chicago Bulls and are still revered today as perhaps the best pair of players we’ve ever seen.
If Kobe and Shaq had stayed together in Los Angeles and came near Jordan and Pippen’s total of six NBA titles, a stronger case could be made for being the best one-two punch. Lakers fans can only fantasize about how many titles these two future Hall of Famers could of won together in Los Angeles. Some believe it would’ve surprised Jordan’s total, but we’ll never know.