The Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal feud was reignited recently when the former said they could have more championships together if the latter was not so “lazy”. The former Los Angeles Lakers center hit back with his own message to his former teammate and said they would have won their fourth championship if he had passed the ball more.

Bryant and O’Neal were teammates in Los Angeles for eight years and formed a deadly partnership which saw them win three straight NBA titles between 2000 and 2002. They could have made it four titles together but they lost the 2004 NBA Finals in five games to Detroit Pistons.

Both the players went on to win more titles after they parted ways in 2004 when O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat where he won a fourth title in 2006. Bryant, meanwhile, remained with the Lakers his entire career until his retirement in 2016 and added two more titles to his kitty in 2009 and 2010, which he recently revealed was important to do without O’Neal by his side.

The future Hall of Fame shooting guard revealed that it was important for him to win titles without the 15-time All-Star by his side as he is certain he would have got chastised with suggestions that he only won the titles because of O’Neal’s presence in the team. Bryant was keen to show his critics the level he could get to without the “force of nature” that was O’Neal.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant attends the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Draw Ceremony at Shenzhen Bay Arena in Shenzhen, China, March 16, 2019. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

“Here is the thing. I get chastised a lot for being selfish, saying we just got to fit into a team, it’s about winning championships,” said Bryant on the Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles podcast, as quoted on Slam Online.

“I get it, I’m doing it, right? We won three straight. I got it. But I also knew that when my career’s over they’re going to chastise me for the same thing: ‘Oh well, you’re only great because you played with Shaq.’ I’m like, ‘Whoa, hold up. You can’t have it both ways, bro?’ You know?"

“So it was important for me and Shaq to go separate ways because I didn’t want people to use that against me — they still do — but it was important that I win championships without him,” he added.

“And you get a glimpse of what I could have done individually had I not played with him. See what I’m saying? So that was a big driving factor. It was like, ‘Hold on, don’t get it f----- up now.’ Like, I’m doing this thing, I’m playing with Shaq, it’s like — take [Michael Jordan] put him with Wilt [Chamberlain] — Shaq was a force of nature, right? So you’ve kind of take a back seat.”