Countless NBA greats have played for the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the years, leading to 17th championships — as well as quite a few conflicts within the franchise.
Usually, the most competitive players by nature also have big personalities, which can result in tensions on a star-studded team. That proved to be the case in the early 2000s when the Lakers won the fabled three-peat.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal created one of the most dominant duos in NBA history, leading L.A. to three straight championships. But they infamously feuded for years, which played a part in O’Neal’s departure in 2004 — although the two All-Stars would later make up.
But being difficult doesn’t necessarily make a player a bad teammate. O’Neal said Dennis Rodman, who played for the Lakers in the second part of the 1998-99 season, was his worst teammate, explaining why on “The Big Podcast with Shaq”:
“Worst teammate? Dennis Rodman… He was a great player, but he made it hard. Like when you try to corral the guys together and the people above you letting this one guy do whatever he wants. So we had to be there an hour before the game. He’d come in 15 minutes before the game eating chicken and rice. While the coaches are talking, he would jump in the shower. Cold shower. Come and give you 15-20 rebounds.”
Interestingly, back in 2017, Rodman said he didn’t have fond memories from his tumultuous time on the Lakers either. The five-time NBA champion recalled how he couldn’t stand seeing O’Neal and Bryant constantly arguing with each other.
However, Rodman once claimed former Lakers and Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson called him “the best player he has ever coached.” Unfortunately for Rodman, Jackson took over in L.A. a few months after the Purple and Gold released the former forward — waiving him even before the 1998-99 season ended because of his antics.
O’Neal thinks Russell Westbrook showed ‘too much respect’ in 2021-22
O’Neal recently said that, unlike Rodman, Russell Westbrook was too nice during his difficult first year with the Lakers. Westbrook seemingly fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, leading to questions over the 2017 NBA MVP’s future with the team.
“I don’t think it was his age. I think he was just, and I say this respectfully, I just think he was showing too much respect,” O’Neal said.
“He was just being too nice. I don’t know the relationship between him and LeBron, but if you put that down on paper and I don’t know nothing about basketball, that’s a hell of a backcourt, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James. Why it didn’t work, I don’t know, but watching him play, he was super passive.”
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