The Los Angeles Lakers have entertained the NBA crowd with a number of superstar duos, the 2000-2003 three-peat squad led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal among the most fabled ones.
The break-up of that fearsome pair puzzles fans of the franchise to this day. The 2004 NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons threw L.A. into turmoil that led to then-head coach Phil Jackson’s departure and an apparent fallout between Bryant and O’Neal.
The center requested a trade in the offseason, ending up on the Miami Heat, where he would win another title in 2006.
“What would have happened had O’Neal stayed with the Lakers? will forever remain just a what-if question. The four-time NBA champion said on Showtime’s “All The Smoke” the circumstances of his departure haunt him to this day:
I got money, I had money. I just should have been like ‘All right, I raised you enough. It’s your team now.’ I know what I’m gonna do. I’m still gonna do my 28 [points] and 10 [rebounds]. But I was like, ‘Nah, I want 150 [million dollars]. If I had to do it all over again, probably would have had a meeting with the [Buss] family. ‘What y’all wanna do? Want me to take less money, take a lesser role, stay here or you still want me to be Shaq?’ See, it’s that ego. The ego still got me what I wanted. I still went to Miami, Pat [Riley] took care of me and I still won one. But I would’ve liked to have stayed there for the rest of my career.
Bryant did win a couple more NBA titles, back with Jackson as L.A.’s head coach, in 2009 and 2010, taking his ring count to five. But O’Neal said on the podcast he would have probably won seven championships with the Black Mamba by his side at Staples Center if he hadn’t left.
Vanessa Bryant launches Mambacita clothing line
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, announced the launch of Mambacita clothing brand, honoring the memory of their daughter Gianna.
Hoodies and sweatpants with the nickname of the late Gigi imprinted on the front released on May 1, when she would have turned 15.
Vanessa rolled out the brand a couple of weeks after the Bryant empire split up from Nike, ending an almost 20-year partnership.
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