Remember that Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal feud that broke up the first great dynasty of the 21st century? Remember how everyone was either on Kobe’s side or Shaq’s, and that to this day there are still hurt feelings?
Now a former member of those championship teams, Robert Horry, is saying that the main culprit in the situation was head coach Phil Jackson.
“I think Phil Jackson started that feud. It happened many times that after team practice he would say, “Kobe said this about Shaq, and Shaq said that about Kobe… We couldn’t believe how could that happen, because just the day before we saw them together, jumping on one another. Phil liked it when there was conflict of some sort.
I always tell people; if you look at those championships, you’ll see who were the closest players on the team. Normally those are the guys who are the first to hug each other. And when we were winning, it was always Shaq and Kobe who hugged. I think this will answer your question. Later it was blown out of proportion by the media and both players started doing something that didn’t make sense.”
There’s no doubt that there had to be some relationship between Bryant and O’Neal. It’s not possible to win three straight championships if your two best players truly hate each other. Obviously there were some issues in the later years of the relationship that ultimately led to the departure of O’Neal, but according to Horry it wasn’t as bad as the media liked to portray.
Still, we’re nearly a decade removed from the Lakers three-peat, so this is information that may start to leak out as time progresses.
Thanks to NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk for the link.