Kobe Bryant has come out and defended his comments made against former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal which began a back and forth between the two on social media. The five-time NBA champion said his comments were aimed at complimenting O’Neal and that the media only picked up parts that made it sound like he was criticizing his former teammates.

The 41-year-old was quoted saying recently that he could have won 12 NBA championship rings if O’Neal had worked as hard as he did during their time together in Los Angeles. The duo won three consecutive championships and lost their fourth straight NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons after which the big center was traded to Miami Heat.

Bryant clarified his comments during a recent appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and made it clear that there was more to his statement than just calling O’Neal “lazy”. While he also made it clear that his comment about winning 12 championship rings was “tongue-in-cheek”.

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
Shaquille O'Neal (L) reacts to his former players seated in the audience with Kobe Bryant looking on during unveiling of his statue at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, March 24, 2017. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

"People missed the whole first half of that in which I said he was the most dominant player I've ever seen and I felt like he could've been the greatest of all time," Bryant said.

"So, people kind of missed that part of it — they caught on to the lazy part. But, that was like, I kinda said that tongue-in-cheek. We weren't going to win 12 rings, nor were we going to play our entire careers together, you know what I mean? But it's all good, man, I love that dude,” he added.

Meanwhile, O’Neal is not one to back down from such accusations and was quick to respond on social media with his own jibes at his former teammate. He posted a comment to Bryant’s comments, saying: "U woulda had twelve if you passed the ball more especially in the finals against the pistons #Facts... You don't get statues by not working hard."