Shaquille O’Neal called in to NBA TV’s “GameTime” Tuesday night to talk about how former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant passed him for No. 5 on the league’s all-time scoring list (linked here):
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Kobe and his family; he’s always been a great player. I can remember when me, him and Derek Fisher walked into the first day of practice. Kobe was practicing and shooting the ball by himself and he told everyone that he wanted to be the greatest Laker ever. I will be the first to say that he is the greatest Laker ever. He has a lot of great accomplishments, a lot of championships, passed up the great Jerry West, passed up Magic, shot the ball more than Kareem and he passed me up, so congratulations to Kobe Bryant and his family.”
NBA TV co-host Dennis Scott asked O’Neal about his relationship with Kobe:
Shaq: “When I first came to Orlando, I can remember when you (Scott) picked me up and said, “Well big man, even though you are a rookie you are our leader so we go as far as you go.” In Orlando, we had a lot of trials and tribulations but you know in Orlando I jumped on you, you jumped on me. I jumped on Nick (Anderson), we jumped on (Scott) Skiles… That’s what great leaders do.
“The great John Wooden said, “The true definition of a great player is a player that makes his other players better.” I knew that Kobe is a fierce guy, a fierce competitor and, at times, I knew that if I made him mad he was going to play out of this world, and he knew that if he made me mad that I was going to play out of this world. So that’s why I tweeted earlier that we are the greatest Laker one-two punch ever created. There will never be a one-two punch more controversial, more entertaining and more dominant than Kobe and myself. So again, congratulations to Kobe Bryant and his family and keep shooting.”
NBA TV co-host Brent Barry asked if Shaq thought Kobe would ever reach Michael Jordan’s all-time record, now that he’s some 3,700 points short:
O’Neal: “He probably has four or five years left and I don’t have my Shaq-alator in front of me, but he is probably going to average 25 or more points per season so he may pass Michael Jordan. He may pass Wilt Chamberlain.
“I am jealous of Kobe in the sense that his injury bug is a much bigger bug than mine. If you look at his career, he never really had a season where he had to miss six to eight weeks because of an injury. I think the most he missed because of injury was two weeks. I missed 250 games averaging 25 points a game. I did the math earlier and that’s another 5,000 points. If I would have done that, and if your father would have taught me how to shoot free throws the correct way, I wouldn’t have missed 5,000 (points).
“I may have only missed 3,000. I’m kind of upset that in my career I missed all those games due to injury and I missed a lot free throws. If I didn’t have that, I would have passed my idol – Wilt Chamberlain. It’s neither here nor there, and like I said earlier, congratulations to Kobe Bryant. As long as I passed up all my other idols – Hakeem [Olajuwon], Patrick Ewing and all those other guys, I think I did a great job.
“Like I said, he’s [Kobe] the greatest Laker ever. He told me that when he was 18-years-old and I believed him. I pushed his buttons and upset him at times but it made us play to the point where we were able to win three out of four championships and that’s all I was trying to do. That’s what all great leaders do.”