The Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers were easily one of the greatest teams in NBA history, winning three straight championships. But O’Neal believes they could have won more than double that if they had stayed together longer.
O’Neal appeared this week on Showtime’s “All The Smoke” podcast. During the episode, the Hall of Fame big man was asked how many more rings he could have won with Bryant had they stayed together in Los Angeles.
“Seven,” O’Neal replied. “The reason why I got traded, it wasn’t about me and Kobe beef. It was that they wanted me to take less money. I’m not doing that. I got money, I had money. I just should’ve been like, ‘Alright, 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 ten [rebounds].
“But I was like, “Nah, I want 150 [million dollars],” added O’Neal. “If I had to do it all over again, I 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, and 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 stay there the rest of my career.”
Indeed, O’Neal won another NBA title with the Heat and dynamic guard Dwyane Wade in 2006 after being traded there. Bryant would also go on to win two more rings with the Lakers once they acquired another dominant big man in Pau Gasol. But winning another four championships together probably would have been a stretch.
The Lakers’ supporting cast around O’Neal and Bryant was aging after they came up short in the 2004 Finals with Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Head coach Phil Jackson also left the team after that season, though he did later return for another six seasons of coaching the Lakers. Finally, rivals in the Western Conference like the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks were only getting stronger in the mid-2000s.
The O’Neal-Bryant partnership was always somewhat precarious as well. But it is definitely often fun to wonder what more could have been there.
Kobe Bryant was famous for having his “Mamba Mentality” approach to attacking life. He once used that mentality on his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate, Pau Gasol.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was a guest on the “All The Smoke” show last week. She said in the interview that after the United States beat Spain to win the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, Kobe hung his gold medal in Pau’s Lakers locker.
Gasol confirmed the story and didn’t seem to mind. He even threw in a goat emoji, to signify that Bryant is the “Greatest of All Time.”
Few things would probably motivate someone more than seeing a reminder of the trophy they beat you out for.
To place things in context, the Lakers had just acquired Gasol in a trade with Memphis in February. They lost to the Celtics in the NBA Finals that year. He and Bryant had only been teammates for 27 regular season games when Bryant did that.
The Olympics took place in August, six months after the trade. The Lakers then went out and won back-to-back championships under Bryant and Gasol’s play and leadership.
Some people might have taken a gesture like that the wrong way, but it might have brought out the best in Gasol. Back in 2016, Bryant shared his side of the story.
Kobe Bryant’s long-standing association with Nike appears to be over.
According to ESPN’s NBA sneaker expert Nick DePaula, Bryant’s wife Vanessa, who controls Kobe’s Trust, decided not to renew her late husband’s contract with Nike. DePaula says the partnership between the Bryants and Nike is “done.” It is unclear if this is temporary or permanent, but for now, there are no plans for any further Bryant-related merchandise releases by the company.
Bryant had been with Nike for 17 years leading up to his death in January 2020. It was recently claimed that Bryant had been planning to leave Nike prior to his passing and start his own shoe company. Perhaps that is what Vanessa plans to do in an effort to comply with her late husband’s wishes.
It’s still surprising to hear about Bryant’s association with Nike ending. He was, after all, famously loyal to the brand during his career.
It has been over a year now since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter accident, and Kobe’s wife Vanessa acknowledged another difficult milestone over the weekend.
Sunday would have been Kobe’s and Vanessa’s 20th wedding anniversary. Vanessa shared a touching post on Instagram.
Vanessa also shared an emotional video of Kobe gushing about his relationship with her:
Vanessa has posted touching tributes like that in the past. Another example was when she reflected on the anniversary of Kobe having his jersey numbers retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. You can see that post here.
Vanessa also recently got a tattoo to pay tribute to her late daughter Gianna.
Kobe and Vanessa got married in 2001. They have three other daughters — Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame next month, and he will have a very fitting presenter.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Thursday announced the list of presenters for the upcoming inductees, who will be enshrined on May 15. Michael Jordan will do the honors for Kobe and the Bryant family. You can see the full list of presenters below.
Jordan was the obvious choice, and there is little doubt he was honored to accept the invitation. Kobe idolized Jordan and modeled his game after the six-time NBA champion. We were reminded of that when “The Last Dance” aired last year, as Kobe gave Jordan credit for his own five championship rings when he was interviewed for the documentary.
Kobe openly tried to play like Jordan, talk like him, lead like him, and win like him. Even his love letter to basketball was just like Jordan’s. Bryant wanted to help pass down all his knowledge to younger players upon retiring, and that is probably because of everything he took from Jordan.
Bryant’s enshrinement in the Hall of Fame will be emotional for many people. Jordan should make for the perfect presenter.
Isaiah Thomas is officially back in the NBA, and he is using the opportunity to pay tribute to The Black Mamba himself.
The former All-Star Thomas, who has not played in the league since Feb. 2020, signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans this week. He will be wearing No. 24 with the team and let it be known on Twitter this weekend that the jersey choice was in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.
Thomas was very close with Bryant. He was one of the athletes included when Bryant memorably issued several Twitter challenges back in 2017.
Countless tributes have sprung up in Bryant’s honor since his passing over a year ago. Thomas rocking the No. 24 jersey will be another cool one.
Mike Krzyzewski has been coaching college basketball since the 1970s, so there are few people in history who have seen more elite high school players in their life than him. Yet, one player stands out in his mind above the rest.
Coach K was a guest on “The Dream Team Tapes: Kobe, LeBron & The Redeem Team” from Diversion Podcasts this week. He discussed a wide range of topics and at one point was asked about his experiences with the late Kobe Bryant. The Duke coach said he watched Kobe in high school in the 1990s and didn’t bother to recruit him. Why? He knew there was no chance Kobe was going anywhere but the NBA.
“I never thought he’d go to college. Nobody recruited him to any deep level because you knew,” Coach K said. “I never saw LeBron play in high school, but when I saw Kobe play and he’s the best high school player I’ve ever seen. When he walked into a gym, he walked in like (Michael) Jordan at a high school level. … He could not only play the role during a game, he played the role before and after the game. He looked that good, he believed he was that good and he was that good. But I knew he was never gonna come.”
Krzyzewski has been the head coach at Duke since 1980. He has been scouting and coaching some of the world’s best basketball talent for more than 40 years. It says a lot that he viewed Kobe as the best high school player he ever saw.
Of course, it is hardly a surprise. If you heard the awesome story Shaq shared last year about Kobe’s work ethic as a rookie, you know there are few players in NBA history who worked harder than Bryant.
A tribute mural featuring Gianna Bryant also has a cool image of Kobe hidden in it.
Numerous murals featuring the Bryants have popped up around the world following the tragic deaths of the Hall of Famer and his daughter in a helicopter crash last year. Artist Tehrell Porter created a mural in Los Angeles that features Gianna, who was 13 years old when she died. What’s cool about the image is that if you look closely in Gianna’s hair, you will see Kobe hidden there.
Gigi had a dream of playing basketball at UConn. She and Kobe died while on their way to one of Gigi’s basketball events in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Just this week, a judge made a key ruling in Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit over photos from the fatal helicopter crash.
Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit last year over unauthorized photos that were taken at the site where her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. On Monday, a judge ruled in her favor on a key issue related to the case.
Some of the photos in question were taken by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. Lawyers for the department had filed a motion to keep the deputies’ names under seal, arguing that releasing the names would make the deputies’ addresses and personal information accessible and that hackers could target them. According to Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled against the Sheriff’s Department on Monday.
Bryant’s attorney Luis Li argued that “transparency promotes accountability,” and Walter agreed. The judge said “the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct” when the case involves police officers.
Further, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has insisted that the photos that were taken at the crash site have been disposed of and/or deleted from electronic devices and no longer exist. Walter said in his ruling that the department’s concern that hackers could locate the photographs if they learned the identities of the deputies is “totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist.”
The lawsuit filed by Bryant seeks damages for negligence and invasion of privacy. The suit alleges that deputies and two LA firefighters took and shared photos of the victims of the crash, which took place on Jan. 26, 2020.
You can read more details from the lawsuit here.
In the aftermath of his tragic and untimely death, Kobe Bryant cards popped up for sale all over the world. From online auctions to in-person auctions and to private sales, they became a hot commodity overnight.
More than a year later, Bryant’s cards continue to skyrocket in value and never was that more evident than on Saturday night.
Goldin Auctions, an online auction house and repository for sports memorabilia, put a “pristine condition” Kobe Bryant rookie card up for bid and when the hammer finally came down, it was sold for $1.795 million. The price tag makes it one of the most expensive basketball cards ever sold and the highest-priced Bryant card in history.
Only three other basketball cards have ever sold for more money than the Bryant rookie card. A 03-04 Rookie Patch Autograph LeBron James card sold for $1.845 million in July of 2020, while two others — a Giannis Antetokounmpo 13-14 Logoman Patch Autograph and a Luka Doncic 1:1 Logoman Autographed — eclipsed that price.
The Antetokounmpo card fetched $1,857,300 in September of 2020 and the Doncic card sold for $4.6 million earlier this year.
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle remains the highest-priced card ever sold or auctioned, earning a total pot of $5.2 million here in 2021. The same card had been sold for $2.8 million in 2018.