The episode of “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” which will be published on Monday, was teased Wednesday on ESPN Radio. Bryant and O’Neal were teammates in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2004, winning the NBA Finals in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and reaching the finals in 2004. Bryant is a 17-time All-Star approaching his 20th NBA season, while O’Neal retired in 2011 as a 15-time All-Star over 19 seasons.
Over their time as teammates, Bryant and O’Neal publicly clashed multiple times. O’Neal was eventually traded to the Miami Heat in 2004. He won the NBA Finals with the Heat in 2006.
“A lot of stuff was said out of the heat of the moment,” O’Neal said in an excerpt from the podcast that was played on ESPN Radio on Wednesday. “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.”
Said 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.”