NBA

Shaquille O’Neal Wants Drew Brees, Saints to Learn From His Beef With Kobe Bryant

For all of Shaquille O’Neal’s accomplishments, he’ll forever carry on his partnership with Kobe Bryant — the good and the bad — for the rest of his life.

O’Neal knows where things went wrong and he wants others to learn from his mistakes. In a recent teleconference with the New Orleans Saints, O’Neal urged players and coaches to follow this one lesson if they want to avoid inner strife.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had a successful partnership

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Before LeBron James and Stephen Curry dominated the league with Big Threes, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal formed a dynamic duo in Los Angeles.

The two played together from 1996 until 2004. The Lakers won three NBA Finals in that span and made another appearance in 2004, the year they lost to Rasheed Wallace and the Detroit Pistons.

Shaquille O’Neal was among the NBA’s top players in that stretch. He made the All-Star Game every year but 1999, a strike-shortened season, and won the MVP Award in 2000.

O’Neal earned NBA Finals MVP in each of his three titles with the Lakers. Los Angeles retired his No. 34 in April 2013.

Bryant and O’Neal also had a memorable beef

Shaquille O'Neal wants Drew Brees and the Saints to avoid the turmoil that ended O'Neal's partnership with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Shaquille O’Neal wants Drew Brees and the Saints to avoid the turmoil that ended O’Neal’s partnership with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. | Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquillle O’Neal’s partnership isn’t just known for three titles and plenty of victories.

The two had an extremely public feud that lingered even after Los Angeles traded O’Neal to Miami in the summer of 2004. The two privately fought over everything from Bryant’s aggressive practice habits to O’Neal’s belief that Bryant was selfish.

Bryant and O’Neal traded shots throughout the years but eventually made up. O’Neal considered Bryant a close friend up until Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash earlier this year.

Shaquille O’Neal wants the Saints to learn from his mistakes

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In hindsight, Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t blame himself or Kobe Bryant for what happened between them. No, it was the media that is responsible — in O’Neal’s eyes, at least.

O’Neal shared that opinion in a recent teleconference with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had recent inner turmoil after quarterback Drew Brees made disparaging comments about players kneeling during the national anthem.

Brees apologized to the team on a Zoom call. O’Neal was on that same call and, according to NBC’s Peter King, urged Saints players to tune the media and their commentary on the situation out.

“They’re going to try to divide you, just like they divided us with the Lakers! Me and Kobe [Bryant], we had a great thing going, but the media divided our team. We could have won five more championships! Stay strong. Don’t let the media divide you! Don’t let social media divide you!”

The Saints will also need to avoid letting President Donald Trump divide them. Trump publicly called out Brees and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in separate tweets about the anthem and the flag.

Shaquille O’Neal’s general point is a strong one, though. For the Saints to win their first Super Bowl in a decade, they need to work together and ignore the outside noise.