Kobe Bryant: Shaq would’ve been the GOAT if he had a better work ethic

NBA Kobe Bryant talks with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NBA Kobe Bryant talks with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Kobe Bryant, in an interview, suggested that Shaquille O’Neal would’ve been the greatest to ever play the game had he had a better work ethic

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had one of the biggest fallouts in NBA teammate history, in which it all ended after the Los Angeles Lakers, led by the duo, lost in the 2004 NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons. Just a few weeks after losing in the Finals, it was announced that the Lakers had traded Shaq to the Miami Heat.

Shaq would go on to win one more NBA Championship, with the Heat, two years later but quickly deteriorated, in large part to father time, over the final few years of his career.

However, during his apex, Shaq was one of the most dominant and terrifying players in NBA history. Just looking at some of his numbers, they’re absurd.

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For example, during the 2000 playoffs, Shaq averaged 31 points, 15 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game on 57 percent shooting from the field. He was absolutely dominant, and there was no force in the NBA that came even close to the impact Shaq had on the floor. He demanded double-teams, and even then they rarely worked.

Shaq’s presence on the floor fed open shots to the likes of Rick Fox and Derek Fisher and certainly made the game a whole lot easier for Kobe Bryant. In the end, egos won out and the two couldn’t put their personas aside in order to chase bigger aspirations for the Lakers.

Interestingly, in an interview with entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David, Kobe notes that Shaq could’ve been the greatest NBA player of all time had he had a better work ethic. Which sometimes can be a sensitive subject.

Here is the video, posted by ESPN.


Kobe saved for the overreaction that was going to be written and talked about after said interview, and went to Twitter stating that HE (Shaq) was still the “#MDE.” MDE likely, in this context, translates to “Most Dominant Ever.” So, Kobe gives Shaq that.

This is certainly not a dig at Shaq. In fact, many people have said that over the course of the years since Shaq’s retirement. Shaq’s injury fell apart due in large part to injury, which is a shame. But a person’s work ethic is a sticky thing to criticize.

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It’s almost impossible to measure how hard one person is working on any given moment, without it being over-the-top excessive or shortcoming. Nevertheless, this Kobe-Shaq rivalry is certainly one of the best – and most unfortunate, especially for Lakers fans – in NBA history.