Together they won three NBA titles before their rivalry became too deep and drove a wedge through the team that ultimately made it unsustainable. We all know that Kobe did not like to share the spotlight so he somehow was able to manage the Lakers executives to force Shaq out of town. Their reason behind this move was simple; Kobe was still young and in his prime, Shaq on the other hand was nearing his dominate career at the center position.
Bryant passed O’Neal in last nights game by hitting a long jump shot from the top of the key with 5:07 remaining in the first half. The scoring assassin quoted; “To say it’s a huge honor would be an understatement,” Bryant said after the game. “It’s a lot of basketball. I’ve been very, very fortunate to have such a good career.”
Bryant finished the night with 28 points as the Lakers lost 95-90.
While Bryant and O’Neal had their disagreements over the years, the Diesel man was happy for his former playing partner.
“I want to personally congratulate Kobe on being the greatest Laker ever,” O’Neal told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith shortly after Bryant passed his mark. “His accomplishment is great and well deserved, and I’m really proud of him. He told me when he was 18 years old that he’d go down as the greatest Laker ever, and one of the greatest players of all time. And he wasn’t lying.
“I’m a little jealous of him because I was never able to escape the injury bug in my career, while he’s never really been injured at all. But all of that is a testament to his hard work and dedication. I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. And, most of all, I want to thank him for being a part of the greatest 1-2 punch ever created, never to be duplicated.”
Bryant was touched by O’Neal’s remarks and went on to reply as follows
“I appreciate it,” Bryant said. “I’m sure Shaq and I will connect at some point and revisit history. But, it’s fun. We had some good times, man. We had some good times. So thank you is what I have to say (to O’Neal).”
O’Neal retired this past off-season after scoring 28,596 points in a 19-year career with Orlando, Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston and the Lakers. Bryant, a 16-year veteran, now trails only Wilt Chamberlain (31,419 points), Michael Jordan (32,292 points), Karl Malone (36,928 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points).