Kobe Bryant criticizes Shaquille O'Neal's work ethic again
It turns out Kobe Bryant won't wax nostalgic about Shaquille O'Neal after hanging up his laces.
It shouldn't be surprising considering they rarely got along during their tumultuous time together with the Lakers. But enough time had passed since then for Shaq to suggest his rifts with Bryant were motivational ploys, Jerry Buss to express appreciation for O'Neal's role in winning three championships and the Lakers to make plans at some point to retire his jersey.
O'Neal and Bryant may have formally buried the hatchet in 2006, but if there's one thing that irks Bryant the most, it's someone who lacks work ethic. That's why Bryant didn't bite his tongue when asked in a radio interview in Italy about his issues with O'Neal.
"I like players who work out," said Bryant, according to a report in Sportando. "I used to do that six, seven hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them."
Bryant shares many Lakers fans' sentiments. As much as Lakers fans expressed frustration for the inability for O'Neal, Bryant, Buss and Phil Jackson to swallow a bit of their egos and find a way to co-exist to maximize championships, it's indisputable that O'Neal's questionable work ethic diminished his standing within the team.
Jackson believed O'Neal would win 10 league MVPS by the time he retired. But despite his four rings, three-time Finals MVP and one regular season MVP honors, and 28,596 career points, he woefully underachieved. Buss didn't just take offense to O'Neal's demands to pay him during a regular-season game or when he famously said before the 2002-03 season he delayed toe surgery so he could heal "on company time." Shaq's unpredictable behavior no longer made him a trustworthy investment. And as for Bryant, there's many areas that point to their fractured relationship, but the disparity in work ethic remained one of them.
And no matter how much time has passed, it's clear Bryant won't forgive or forget about it.
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Photo credit: Kim D. Johnson / Associated Press