One of my favorite sports writers, Mark Heisler, has just finished latest book “Madmen’s Ball” documenting the Shaq/Kobe/Phil Lakers. As all of us who love the Lakers know, this era ended far too early and with about 4 championships too soon. Why? Kobe was a spoiled prick and Shaq was ego-maniac slob, and the two simply never learned the lessons that Keith and Mick learned about putting aside personal differences for a greater cause.
Turns out the 2003-2004 season was the straw that broke the camel’s back and Shaq and Kobe were at each other’s throats all day, every day. Makes sense. I mean, how the hell else did we fail to win a champtionship with SHAQ, KOBE, KARL MALONE, AND GARY PAYTON ON THE SAME TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I digress. So where does the blame lie? Kobe is an abbrasive, selfish ball hog (or was, until 2007). So in this situation I attribute about, oh, let’s say 15% of the blame to him. What he did is nothing compared to the stuff that Shaq pulled. Let’s go down a laundry list of Kobe’s grievances about Shaq when he finally aired them:
– Comes into training camp fat and out of shape? CHECK!
– Blaming others for team failure? CHECK!
– Failing to get injuries addressed in a timely manner? CHECK!
– Demand an exorbitant salary that he knew would handcuff the franchise? CHECK!
– Threaten not to play D and rebound if he didn’t get the ball more? CHECK!
Kobe might have been a jerk, but he was right on about everything. Shaq got lucky when he rode Dwayne Wade and some bad refereeing to a title in 2006, but he ain’t getting lucky like that again. I can’t wait until we hang another banner in Staples Center this year and shove it in Shaq’s fat, smarmy face.