“Heard absolutely nothing from him”: Kobe Bryant revealed Michael Jordan had his back in 2003 while ‘Big Brother’ Shaquille O’Neal ghosted him

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LA Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal enjoyed a ton of success as teammates, winning three NBA titles over eight seasons together. However, the superstar duo infamously butted heads on numerous occasions and made their long-running feud known to the public.

This includes one in 2003 when Bryant called out O’Neal for not having his back during his legal troubles stemming from sexual assault allegations.

During a 2003 interview with ESPN’s Jim Gray, Bryant was asked whether O’Neal had been supportive regarding his legal situation. Bryant then went off on the big man, saying that Shaq didn’t even offer him a single word of encouragement amid his struggles:

“He is not my quote-unquote, ‘Big brother,’” Bryant said.

“A big brother would have called to lend his support this summer. I heard absolutely nothing from him.”

Bryant added that he heard from multiple members of the Lakers organization and even some of his opponents. According to the late player, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, golf star Tiger Woods and even O’Neal’s uncle reached out to him. However, he still heard nothing from his co-star:

“I spoke to Devean (George), Rick (Fox), Mitch (Kupchak), Phil (Jackson), and our owner Jerry Buss. And Shaq’s own Uncle Jerome called and left three messages. Other teammates like Derek (Fisher), Mark (Madsen), and (Stanislav Medvedenko) left messages as well. Opponents called like (Chris) Webber, (Mike) Bibby, and many others. So did a lot of coaches,” Bryant said.

“Michael Jordan, who didn’t have my home phone, tracked it down to lend his support. So did Tiger Woods. But yet from my so-called big brother, I heard nothing.”

Also read: “I play for the Los Angeles Lakers”: Rookie Kobe Bryant never hesitated to remind fans of his NBA status

Kobe Byrant on why he dealt with his feud with Shaquille O’Neal publicly

LA Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O&rsquo;Neal<img class="lazy-img" width="1920" height="1006" data-img="https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg" alt="LA Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O&rsquo;Neal" data-img-low="https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=840" src="data:image/svg+xml,” srcset=”https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=190 190w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=720 720w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=840 840w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=1045 1045w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=1200 1200w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=1460 1460w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg?w=1600 1600w, https://staticg.sportskeeda.com/editor/2023/09/ab8d0-16957956262401-1920.jpg 1920w”>
LA Lakers legends Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal

During the same interview, Kobe Bryant was also asked why he opted to deal with his feud with Shaquille O’Neal publicly instead of behind closed doors. Bryant said that he asked then-Lakers coach Phil Jackson to deal with the budding issue, however, Jackson avoided doing so.

So, Bryant said that he took it upon himself to call out the big man for his unprofessionalism:

“I asked Phil (Jackson) on Sunday to say something to calm this situation down before it boiled over. But he backed away, so now here we are,” Bryant said.

“I have been a bigger person every time something happened with Shaq, and I don’t expect this to be any different. But somebody in this organization had to speak up, because his unprofessionalism hurt us last year, and I don’t want it to hurt us this year.”

O’Neal and Bryant’s feud led to the big man getting traded to the Miami Heat shortly after in the 2004 offseason. However, the Lakers legends were later able to smooth things over before Bryant’s tragic untimely passing in 2020.

Also read: “No more coming into camp fat”: Kobe Bryant’s fiery attack against Shaquille O’Neal signaled the end of Lakers dynasty in 2003

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Edited by Kanav Seth
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