Sunday, March 2, 2014

Phil Jackson: Kobe/Shaq rift caused by Shaq playing the "clown role"

As the greatest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson won eleven championships with the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

He would be an expert on the differences between those all-time greats. Speaking on a panel at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Jackson shed some light on their work ethics.

“Shaq didn’t work at it,” Jackson said. “Michael was able to succeed despite all kinds of limitations in his game. He couldn’t hit an outside shot. He couldn’t defend. But all of that went away because of his work ethic. Kobe saw that as a pinnacle that he had to reach, and he took it to a whole new level.”

After winning three straight titles with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002, O’Neal and Bryant had a famous falling out, and Jackson pointed to their personalities as a cause.

“Shaq had a clown role he had to play,” he said. “So that was part of the rift.”

O’Neal’s larger than life personality made him one of the most popular players in the NBA, but it clashed with Bryant’s serious-minded approach. In the end, Kobe won out.

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