Shaquille O'Neal answers Kobe Bryant: 'I don’t need to work out'
Shaquille O'Neal's time with the Lakers is far enough in the past that he's not going to call Kobe Bryant names. But Shaq is not sufficiently removed from his storied 19-year NBA career where he can give an honest self-evaluation.
Even if O'Neal and Bryant formally ended their feud in 2006, Bryant didn't mince words during a Nike promotional stop in Italy when he acknowledged that Shaq's 30-minute workouts still annoyed him, considering that Bryant would put in six to seven hours a day in the gym.
Shaq would have none of it.
"I don’t need to work out," O'Neal said when the New York Times' Joe Brescia asked him about Bryant's comments. "My numbers speak for itself. My three finals MVP’s speaks for itself."
Yes, they do. O'Neal's four rings, three finals MVP awards, one regular-season MVP and 28,596 career points speak to how he became one of the league's most dominant centers ever, but strictly by talent alone. Had he entered training camp in shape, taken the game seriously and mimicked Bryant's workouts, it's possible O'Neal could've lived up to Phil Jackson's prediction that he'd become a 10-time league MVP.
For O'Neal, the need to entertain became more of a focal point simply because his 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame allowed him to skate by. But in measuring O'Neal's legacy, his numbers speak more of underachieving with his tremendous talent.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal back in the day. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times