There have been little fissures in the ice dividing former Los Angeles Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal through the years. The two feuded heavily in both times good (those three NBA championships) and bad (embarrassing playoff ousters to Utah, San Antonio, and Detroit that saw the duo just manage a combined 4-20 record), and they’ve had their moments in the days since Kobe forced a trade that sent O’Neal (happily) to Miami. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Well, Shaq has a podcast now; hosted by John Kincade. And in the great Marc Maron tradition of righting past wrongs with his guests, he’s decided to bring Kobe on for a discussion that will clear the air while positing (as Shaq has in the past, while Kobe demurred) that the relationship wasn’t all that bad to begin with. Serena Winters at Lakers Nation transcribed a preview of the episode, which will be released in full on Monday, recently : John Kincade: Is there anything, Shaq, that you would like to take back in the give and take over the years? Shaq: A lot of things, you just played the clip where I said I wanted to be traded. I definitely did not want to leave L.A., but you know that’s how you’ve got to talk when you’re in business, especially when you think you’re in control. Definitely didn’t want to leave L.A. A lot of stuff was said out of the heat of the moment. I guarantee I don’t remember a lot of stuff that they said because I changed my thought process of, you know what we won three out of four, what the hell are you all talking about, this is not really even a story. Kincade: Anything you want to take back Kobe? Kobe Bryant: Here’s the thing though, when you say it at the time you actually mean it and then when you get older you have more perspective and you’re like holy s—, I was an idiot when I was a kid. To me, the most important thing was really just keep your mouth shut. You don’t need to go to the press with stuff. You keep it internal and we have our arguments and our disagreements, but I think having our debates within the press was something I wish would’ve been avoided, but it did kind of create this whirlwind around us as a team with myself and Shaq and the press and the media that just put so much pressure on us as an organization. Eh, I guess. I mean both of these guys really, really screwed up. In May we talked about O’Neal’s assertion that he would have remained a Laker for life had it not been for two ill-timed knee injuries to Karl Malone during the 2003-04 regular and postseason. That’s dubious, to say the least, because the Lakers were hedging on extending the contract of an aging and overweight O’Neal at the time, Shaq should have been iffy on wanting to return to a similarly-aging (even with Kobe) Los Angeles Lakers team, and at the time a trip to Miami (with the young and dynamic Dwyane Wade, and cap room for growth) was both the best basketball and business move for Mr. O’Neal. Were it not for poor timing in the 2005 Eastern Conference finals the Heat would have likely given all the eventual champion Spurs all they could handle in that year’s Finals. Miami split the season series with San Antonio, one of the top defensive teams of all time, and Dwyane Wade didn’t play in the one loss. Miami would go on to win the 2006 title. Secondly, for Bryant to call himself an “idiot” for the way he got off on the wrong foot with O’Neal during the fin de siècle is fine, but he was 25 and about to turn 26 when he strong-armed Laker management into dealing O’Neal in 2004. Even after the Lakers traded Shaq, Kobe still flirted with the Clippers and Chicago, leaving the Lakers dangling along the way, prior to re-signing with his incumbent team. And it appears that his regrets have more to do with how he dealt with the press, than his teammate. O’Neal and Bryant feuded almost from the start. Kobe never took to the sort of rookie treatment that most young players grin and bear, failing to fit in on several levels on a veteran Laker team that was thinking “championship” weeks before the newly-signed Bryant was to even turn 18. Not only did Bryant have to watch as Hollywood-obsessed O’Neal got most of the shots in the Laker offense, but he also had to play behind guard Eddie Jones in the Laker lineup. Jones and Bryant battled regularly in pickup games in Philadelphia even before Bryant had left high school, and Kobe respected the All-Star, but it would take 32 months between Kobe’s introduction with the Lakers and his first permanent move into the starting lineup. Bryant respected O’Neal’s impact, but not his game. O’Neal didn’t like Bryant airballing several long jumpers down the stretch of the deciding Game 5 of their initial season together, but Bryant probably didn’t like O’Neal poor defense and six fouls in that contest. The 1997-98 season produced yet another season ending playoff sweep for O’Neal, his fourth in six years as a pro, and the 1999 lockout and season that followed were disastrous. O’Neal (who had already signed a massive seven-year, $120 million contract) was a driving force behind moving stars to capitulate and give into the idea of a “max contract,” and to his credit he helped end the stalemate. Bryant, meanwhile, was one of the few players to vote against the new collective bargaining agreement, mindful of the fact that his upcoming six-year, $70.9 contract extension could have possibly been doubled under the same amount of years under the old rules. Shaq got his $100 million contract, and then helped prevent Kobe from getting his. The two clashed endlessly in practice, with Kobe itching to take over in a post-Michael Jordan era, while the Lakers fruitlessly looked for veteran help (Derek Harper, Glen Rice, Dennis Rodman) to helped settle things. The winning that came with the Phil Jackson years barely helped relations. Jackson almost immediately sided with O’Neal, who played in the best shape of his career in Jackson’s first season, while Bryant seethed. Though Bryant’s alleged off-court indiscretions never made it to trial in 2003, his comments about doing “what Shaq does” and paying off women with whom he’d had affairs with did make it on the record. Shaq responded by showing up to camp out of shape (a year after refusing to have surgery on his foot until fall when he was “on company time,” as if he wasn’t being paid in the summer), and accusing Kobe of attempting to “buy love” after Bryant bought an expensive ring for his wife Vanessa as the rape allegations came to light. Bryant responded by calling O’Neal a “fat ass” in an interview with Jim Gray. But, sure – it was Karl Malone’s knee injury. The two exchanged glares and little else as Kobe stayed with both a rebuilding and then championship Lakers squad in the years that followed. O’Neal bounced from Miami to Phoenix, then Cleveland and Boston before hanging it up in 2011. Upon Kobe’s Finals loss to the Celtics in 2008 Shaq responded with a rather distasteful impromptu concert performance aimed at Mr. Bryant , but when Kobe eclipsed Shaq’s amount of career championships ( something that Bryant reminded everyone of in the minutes following his last championship ), Shaq hopped on Twitter to play cheeky and send this out: @THE_REAL_SHAQ Congratulations Kobe, u deserve it. U played great. Enjoy it man enjoy it. I know what ur sayin "Shaq how my ass taste" — SHAQ (@SHAQ) June 18, 2010 And now we’re here to take in this strain of revisionist history: "It was more of a office beef. When I look back, I would do it all over again." - @SHAQ on his relationship with @kobebryant — SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) August 27, 2015 I’m sure Shaq would do it all over again. He’d happily put up with the losing years in order to win those three titles, knowing that Phil Jackson was always a year or two away, and when Phil was in town the ball was always going into O’Neal by rule. He’s not saying he’d handle the losing years in 2002-03 and 2003-04 all over again, or more appropriately. And Bryant, when pressed about his self-described idiocy, only cops to not talking to the press about his frustrations as a 25-year old kid. So, sure – they’re friendly with each other now. It’s only because they don’t have to share the ball and the same locker room for a hundred games a year. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History . Today, Paul Palladino looks back at Rajon Rondo's knifing one-handed slam against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals. From Kobe to LeBron to Carmelo, some names seem destined for greatness. Rajon Rondo certainly feels like one of them; between the alliteration and internal rhyming, it's truly poetic. Add in the obvious connection to John "Hondo" Havlicek, and you have a name tailor-made for the spotlight in Boston. During his first three years in the NBA, Rondo was best known for his passing and defense. After battling for playing time with Sebastian Telfair as a rookie, Rondo claimed the starting spot in his second season, when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce to transform the Boston Celtics into title favorites. He hinted at a flair for the dramatic with moves like his signature behind-the-back pass fake and his 2008 dunk on Jason Maxiell of the Detroit Pistons. In a supporting role to the Big Three, however, Rondo split time with veteran Sam Cassell during the team’s run to the 2008 NBA title. In the postseason, his playing time fluctuated depending on matchups and who had the hot hand. With Garnett out of the lineup for the 2009 playoffs due to a right knee injury, Rondo took center stage as the Celtics tried to defend their title. In a seven-game victory over the Chicago Bulls in the first round, Rondo averaged 19.4 points, 11.6 assists and 9.3 rebounds in 45.3 minutes per game. After the Celtics dropped Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic, Rondo responded with a 15-point, 18-assist, 11-rebound triple-double to even the series . The highlight of the 112-94 blowout victory came when Rondo received a pass at the top of the key, took one dribble in the paint and took flight with Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard in sight. Marv Albert’s call quickly goes from a run-of-the-mill play to the frenzy that ensues when a 6-foot-1 point guard dunks on the league’s best defender and most imposing figure: At first glance, the dunk might not seem all that impressive, but the details add up. At his peak, Rondo has the ball at the top of the square on the backboard:
Someone must've told Andrew Wiggins that he was the subject of Wednesday's entry in our Dunk History series , because the former No. 1 overall draft pick and reigning Rookie of the Year certainly seemed to have attacking the rim on his mind on Wednesday night: Well, hello , Mr. Wiggins. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] Let's take another couple of looks at that: Better-quality gif of the Wiggins dunk from 3 angles. pic.twitter.com/xaDghu4nTA — Tim Faklis (@timfaklis) August 27, 2015 Hey, Puerto Rico defender Richard Chaney? J.J. Barea does not have your back as a rim protector in that situation. Just a little FYI to help you CYA in the future. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Wiggins, the 20-year-old rising star for the Minnesota Timberwolves, finished with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and a steal in 31 minutes of playing time to lead Canada to a 78-72 win over Puerto Rico that clinched the country's victory in the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup, a tune-up tournament leading into next week's FIBA Americas Championship . The win capped a perfect 4-0 run through the tournament, with the highly anticipated next generation of Canadian hoops — 2014 No. 1 pick Wiggins, 2013 No. 1 pick and fellow Wolf Anthony Bennett, former first-round picks Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors, Nik Stauskas of the Philadelphia 76ers, Andrew Nicholson of the Orlando Magic and Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics, alongside NBA players Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks and Melvin Ejim of the Magic, 2015 second-round pick Olivier Hanlan and sharpshooting Brady Heslip, among others — showing the depth and breadth of talent that has led many to expect the young Canucks to force their way onto the international stage sooner rather than later. Their next opportunity to do so will come in Mexico at the FIBA Americas tourney. The top two finishers in that competition will qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, joining the United States; who qualified automatically by winning the 2014 FIBA World Cup ; Brazil, guaranteed a spot as the tournament's host nation; and Australia, who punched their tickets by beating New Zealand to win the FIBA Oceania Championship . The remaining seven teams to take part in the 2016 games will come from four other international tournaments: Afrobasket, Eurobasket, the FIBA Asia Championship this summer, and the last-chance-saloon Olympic qualifying tournament next summer. NBA.com's John Schuhmann has a good, quick breakdown of how it all works. The Canadians will face stiff competition as they vie for one of those top two spots. They open preliminary round play on Sept. 1 against Argentina, led by legends Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni and talented young point guard Facundo Campazzo, who spent last season with European champions Real Madrid before recently joining Murcia on loan, and whom American hoops fans might remember from his 7ow b7ow on Carmelo Anthony during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London , and could face stern tests from the likes of Brazil and Mexico. This much seems certain, though: if Wiggins stays committed to using that lightning quick first step, his nose for the basket and his remarkable agility in the air, there won't be very many defenders in that tournament who can stop him from getting to the front of the rim, and there might not be any stopping Canada from earning a spot in Rio's main event, returning to Olympic hoops for the first time since 2000. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.