It's been more than 10 years since Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant ended their Lakers partnership in a very public, very tumultuous breakup. A lot has happened since then. But neither has really talked openly about their conscious uncoupling.
Until now. Bryant recently appeared as a guest on O'Neal's "Big Podcast with Shaq," and while the entire podcast won't be released until Monday, ESPN Los Angeles aired a snippet of it in which both NBA stars were asked if they could take back anything from their beef over the years. Here's how they responded, as transcribed by Lakers Nation's Serena Winters:
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.
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 sâ, 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.
Of course, O'Neal left Los Angeles for Miami in 2004, and the rest is history.
H/t Bleacher Report.