Shaquille O'Neal is one of the greatest centers in NBA history. He's the most dominant force since Wilt Chamberlain. So what if O'Neal and Kobe Bryant didn't get along? O'Neal carried the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight NBA titles and four trips to the finals in five years.
Had Bryant concentrated on what was important - winning championships - he might have gone down as one of the all-time greats.
He still might, but he needs to undergo a significant makeover first.
Bryant's Lakers legacy goes well beyond what he accomplished on the court. In fact, Bryant's true legacy will be defined by what he did off the court.
Bryant will be remembered as a self-centered, greedy egomaniac. What Bryant did to the Lakers is his sporting trademark.
What Bryant did to a woman who wasn't his wife in a posh Colorado resort is his trademark - period.
It's the reason why, despite his breathtaking talent, so many sports fans now despise Bryant.
Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person.
Bryant permitted his ego to break up the Lakers. Bryant permitted his personal dislike for O'Neal to break up a championship dynasty.
Loyalty to the Lakers, his teammates or his coach has never been a high priority for Bryant. He's loyal to his own best interest.
Last off-season, Bryant wielded the most power on the Lakers. He certainly had more power than O'Neal. And he wielded more power than the Zen master himself, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Little did he realize, Bryant needed help this season. For the first time since joining the Lakers, he was on his own.
Facing the biggest challenge of his career, Bryant fell flat on his face. Individually, he will always be great. He's one of the top scorers in the league.
For pure excitement, Bryant's your man. Collectively, however, Bryant has failed in the leadership department. He was great playing Robin to O'Neal's Batman. But he's collapsing under the weight of his own lofty ambitions.
Bryant wanted his very own team to command. So he ran off O'Neal and he also ran off Jackson, who has coached nine championship teams. He ran off everyone associated with the Lakers except the person who operates the scoreboard at the Staples Center. He's probably working on his departure papers, too.
Instead of needing a team to lead, Bryant needed help.
He needed O'Neal to save the day, the season and Bryant's tarnished reputation.
Bryant needed more help than he could possibly imagine.
Help was 2,300 miles away, in Miami, where O'Neal has carried the Heat to the best record in the Eastern Conference this season. Miami is expected to advance to the finals for the first time in franchise history.
Without O'Neal by his side, Bryant failed miserably as the Lakers this week were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and only the fourth time since moving to L.A. in 1960.
Be careful what you wish for.
You just might get it
Bryant got it.