Kobe Bryant reveals what Phil Jackson told him to do when he sensed the Lakers were losing Shaquille O’Neal mentally in 2003
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was recently on a podcast with Alex Rodriguez and Dan Katz of Barstool Sports and the Black Mamba revealed a fascinating story from the 2003 season involving Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal.
During that season, Shaquille O’Neal had missed some time due to a foot injury, so the Lakers’ offense ran exclusively through Kobe Bryant. Kobe went on a scoring tear as a result, scoring 40 or more points in nine-straight games.
When Shaq came back from the injury, Bryant was still putting up prolific numbers, and that’s when Phil Jackson sensed the team was losing O’Neal from a mental perspective because he wasn’t getting the ball in the post.
So, the Zen Master called Kobe into his office and told him to dial it back on offense so the club could feature O’Neal more. In a game against the Clippers, Bryant was at 38 points and two points away from scoring 40 points for the 10th consecutive game.
What happened next shows exactly why you can’t call Bryant a selfish player:
Kobe reveals inside stuff about him and Shaq that no one knew 🤯🤯 (via The Corp) pic.twitter.com/SbQFxvgJyy
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) December 28, 2018
That is a great inside story from Kobe. The future Hall of Famer could have ignored Jackson and continued to shoot the ball. However, Bryant probably knew deep down that keeping O’Neal happy and engaged on offense would be beneficial for the team since they were going to need Shaq to play at a high level to win the NBA Finals.