Right off the bat, O’Neal introduced Bryant as “the greatest Laker ever.” So that’s pretty high praise, not to mention a claim that might be of interest to Magic Johnson, as well as Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“I just want people to know that I don’t hate you. I know you don’t hate me,” O’Neal told Bryant. “I called it today a ‘work beef,’ is what we had.”
The podcast was an overt effort to “clear the air” between the two, and while we cut to a shot of Homer Simpson drooling while saying, “Mmmm … work beef …,” here are some of the other tidbits to emerge from the discussion:
- O’Neal ribbed Bryant about the latter’s wife referring to him as “bay-boo” on Instagram, and suggested that opponents might also taunt him. “Bay-Boo will still drop 60,” Bryant replied.
- Shaq was surprised when Charles Barkley told him that Bryant had passed him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (in 2012). “So I went to look, and I’m like, ‘Damn, this dude’s got a lot of points,'” O’Neal said.
- The pair would discuss their plans to “take turns” in the playoffs, and “used to literally alternate who dominates what series.”
- On one occasion, Bryant was impressed when O’Neal, whose missed free throws cost the Lakers a game, threw a tantrum in the locker room. Bryant said that he noted to himself, “ ‘Okay, he really, really cares about this team. He’s not just going to sit back and brush it under the rug.’ “
- Bryant said O’Neal taught him “how to lead” (“He always checks in on guys and makes sure they’re good”).
- In 1999, Bryant realized he had a “couple screws loose,” because he was “willing to get into a fistfight with this man.”
- According to Bryant, “the physicality in the Olympics is more physical than the NBA is” currently.
- Kobe: “I don’t know what happened to all the seven-footers.” Shaq: “You know what happened, baby. We killed them all off.”
- Phil Jackson didn’t play favorites between them, but “Robert Horry was the whipping boy.”
- Bryant said he would make for a bad team executive because he “would fire somebody in a second.”
- They agreed that their best Lakers squad was the 2000-01 team that went 15-1 in the playoffs en route to a title.