One of the greatest unanswered NBA questions of all time is what would have happened had the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers not broken up.
In 2004, following a disappointing Finals showing against the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers parted ways with O’Neal and pledged to build a new championship-level squad around Bryant.
The move was met with much criticism from fans, particularly aimed at Bryant. He was called ‘spoiled’ and a ‘diva’ by many as a result of the break-up, and the lingering memory of that followed him for the entirety of his career.
Although both O’Neal and Bryant were able to ultimately win championships without one another, the fact that their partnership ended the way they did never quite sat right in the eyes of many.
This past week, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss appeared on the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast and revealed the real catalyst behind the decision to part ways with O’Neal.
“[Shaq] wanted an amount of money that was legal under the CBA but it wasn’t what my Dad wanted to pay him,” Buss said.
“And so it came to the point where the decision was made to trade Shaq. A lot of people want to put that blame on Kobe. It wasn’t. It was purely a money situation.”
So essentially the problem was mainly a financial one, but for whatever reason it was all laid at Bryant’s footsteps.
This story just keeps getting sadder. https://t.co/psNkvJL8gS
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 24, 2021
The Lakers and O’Neal were reportedly $9 million apart on what his compensation should be.
This isn’t the first Bryant-related anecdote to emerge in recent days. Last week, an interview resurfaced where the Lakers legend described who the toughest player in the NBA for him to guard was. Prior to that, a funny story about Bryant at the 2008 Olympics came out.
Although it has been more than a year since Bryant’s untimely passing, the basketball universe will probably never truly be able to get over losing him.
Related: Kyrie Irving Gets Very Honest About Muslim Faith