Bryant started the small war of words by saying in a recent interview that if O’Neal had worked out more in the gym, their pairing would have been far more successful than the three straight NBA titles they produced in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2002.
“I would have had fucking 12 rings. ... It wouldn’t even be close,” Bryant said.
On Wednesday, O’Neal took his own shot at Bryant. “U woulda had twelve if u passed the ball more especially in the finals against the pistons #facts,” the Hall of Fame center commented on an Instagram video of the interview. “You don’t get statues by not working hard.”
Shaq was referring to the Lakers’ attempt at a fourth O’Neal/Bryant NBA title being scuttled by the less-talented Detroit Pistons in the 2004 finals, four games to one. The Lakers finally traded O’Neal to Miami after the season, amid simmering tensions with Bryant.
Bryant’s reputation as a ball hog and his gripe about O’Neal’s work ethic are nothing new, but they managed to cause a stir again.
The two, who once threw punches in a pickup game, insisted it was all good after their recent volley of words. Bryant wrote on Twitter that they loved each other and were too old to beef. O’Neal responded with a joke about former and current Laker Dwight Howard, who also clashed with Bryant back in the day.