Kobe: If Shaq had worked harder, they would have '12 rings'

Kobe and Shaq in bygone days. (Getty)
Kobe and Shaq in bygone days. (Getty)

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal haven’t suited up as teammates for 15 years—yes, that’s right, and you are old—but they’re still sniping at each other all this time later.

The latest broadside came from Kobe, who declared that if Shaq had possessed Kobe’s work ethic, Shaq would be “the greatest of all time.” Although Bryant praised O’Neal’s passion and talent, if O’Neal had worked harder, Bryant believes he would have “12 rings. Wouldn’t even be close.”

Speaking at the PHP Agency Convention in Las Vegas, Bryant detailed his thoughts on O’Neal and the price you have to pay to be the best. Here’s a snippet; be warned, there’s some salty language within:

“We sit down all the time,” Bryant said, “and I tell him, ‘if your lazy ass was in shape...’” It’s Bryant’s half of the narrative, that he had the drive and the willpower that was at least the equal of O’Neal’s talent.

Shaq caught wind of Kobe’s words, and on an Instagram post offered up his own reply:

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“U woulda had twelve if u passed the ball more especially in the finals against the pistons #facts,” O’Neal responded. “You don’t get statues by not working hard.” Fair point.

Kobe-Shaq is one of the NBA’s great What-Ifs and What-Happeneds, a story that fascinates everyone who lived through it. Everyone’s got an angle, everyone’s got a side, and even the two principals aren’t entirely sure what happened. Together, Bryant and O’Neal won three straight titles from 2000 to 2002, and reached another NBA Finals in 2004. It’s fascinating to think what else they could have done together.


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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