Shaq and Charles Barkley have heated on-air argument after Barkley brings up Kobe
Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have got more beef than a steakhouse, and they were at it again on Thursday’s edition of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” postgame studio show.
This time, it started when Shaq had a sit-down with former teammate and one-time hated rival Kobe Bryant to hash things out over their feud that broke up the Lakers’ NBA dynasty between the Michael Jordan era and the rise of guys like LeBron James:
Clear your schedule… Living legends @SHAQ & @kobebryant sit down for a conversation surrounding their relationship through the years & three consecutive championships???
Saturday at 7pm ET on TNT! #PlayersOnly #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/EEgHtc3bt7
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 14, 2018
The full interview airs Saturday on TNT as part of All-Star Weekend, but in that teaser, Shaq cops to once having taken summers off “because he had Kobe,” something that annoyed Bryant.
Indeed, that was at the root of the trouble between Bryant and O’Neal on the Lakers; Kobe is the ultimate competitor, a guy who was intense and driven to an almost psychotic degree.
Bryant knows nothing but ball. Shaq, on the other hand, spent the offseason having a ball, acting in some of the most awful movies ever to hit the big screen and pursuing a “rap career” for which scare quotes are absolutely no more or less than it deserves.
Indeed, Shaq’s freestyle rhymes were once directed at Bryant to infamously “tell me how my a– tastes.”
But the bigger beef wasn’t between a pair of three-time champions as teammates.
Charles Barkley — who oh by the way won zero championships as an NBA player, and who was sitting outside the House that Shaq Built, Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the All-Star Game is going on this weekend — tried to tell Shaq that if he and Kobe sat down and talked more when they were together, they might have won more championships.
“I’m just glad that you guys come to some type of understanding,” Barkley said.
O’Neal … well, he took umbrage.
Said Shaq: “We never had a misunderstanding. That’s what you don’t understand.”
“Stop lying,” Barkley interjected.
O’Neal continued, “There was never, ever a misunderstanding. You just thought it was a misunderstanding because you like gossip. Don’t listen to gossip. We won three out of four [championships]. I know what I’m talking about. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way. We didn’t have a disagreement. We had two guys, two competitive guys, alpha males.”
When Barkley said Shaq “probably should have won more” championships, O’Neal said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. … We didn’t ever have beef.”
Sir Charles pointed to the Kobe interview, telling O’Neal, “You said it yourself, if you had done more in the summer, you all would have been more dominant.”
“You can’t tell me nothing about being dominant,” Shaq responded. “I knew what I was doing and I did it my way. … You know what I do? I bring championships. That’s what I do.”
"I bring championships. That's what I do."
Shaq & Chuck going at it… ? pic.twitter.com/LQh3aMkLVq
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 16, 2018
Shaq and Kobe were two alpha males with very different styles of alpha leadership.
O’Neal once said “you gotta feed the dog if you want him to guard the yard” when he thought Bryant wasn’t passing him the ball enough. Shaq and Kobe were both volume scorers who needed the ball in their hands as the primary offensive option in order not only to be effective but to be fully engaged on offense.
That’s why Shaq was able to go to Miami and win a title with Dwyane Wade; Wade was far more of a facilitator than Kobe ever was, the same role Wade later played when winning two titles with LeBron James.
On the other hand, once Shaq left, Kobe singlehandedly willed a dreadful Lakers team to the playoffs, setting an NBA record for usage rate in 2005-06 that stood for 11 years before Russell Westbrook, another volume scorer and primary ballhandler willing a bad team to the postseason, broke it in 2017.
Bryant, with help from Phil Jackson, built a team around him that he could lead without clashing with his big man, and at the end of their careers, Kobe had two rings without Shaq; Shaq only had one without Kobe.
There was never a misunderstanding. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant simply could not coexist in the same basketball ecosystem; the fact that they were able to win three titles together speaks to both men’s pure athletic talent and Jackson at his height being the ultimate manager of egos as a coach.
But of course Shaq checkmated the argument with Barkley, pointing to the statue of O’Neal outside Staples Center and asking Barkley how many championships he won, which just so happens to be tied with Ernie Johnson for fewest among the “Inside the NBA” hosts.
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