There is no question that Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest and most decorated players in NBA history. However, through out the star’s illustrious career he has made more than a handful of enemies.
When a guy is as intense and as fierce a competitor as Kobe, there is no question he will get under the skin of his competition. Kobe has been the centerpiece of some historic NBA scuffles. For example:
Kobe vs. Chris Childs – 2000
A young Kobe was playing some physical defense against Chris Childs of the Knicks. The two started jawing at one another and then Kobe threw an elbow at Childs. Childs retaliated by punching Bryant twice before both players had to be held back.
Kobe vs. Reggie Miller – 2002
At the end of a blow-out game, Kobe put up a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Reggie Miller, a notorious trash-talker, had some words for Kobe about it. A heated Kobe charged at Miller and took a swing at him before the two fell onto the scorer’s table in a wrestling match.
Kobe vs. Ron Artest – 2009 Playoffs
Ron Artest and Kobe had been going at it all series long in this heated Western Conference playoff matchup. Artest, a notorious NBA bad boy himself, was furious after receiving a Kobe elbow to the face. When the refs didn’t call anything, Artest ran over to let Kobe know what he had been doing wrong.
Kobe vs. Allen Iverson – 2001 NBA Finals
Two of the games greatest scorers on the games biggest stage. The two hot-heads started barking at each other during the finals and had to be separated before it escalated.
Kobe vs. Vince Carter – 2005
Again, two of the games greats at the height of their careers. After playing some smothering defense, Kobe fouled Vince Carter. Carter was unhappy and had some words for Bryant after the play. After some shoving, the two had to be separated.
Kobe has gone beyond making enemies on opposing teams, however.
Bryant has a history of feuding with teammates, and almost every Kobe ‘beef’ has resulted in the other player leaving the Lakers.
Here is a look at eight of the most famous quarrels between Kobe and teammates.
8.) Pau Gasol
For most of Gasol’s career in Los Angeles, he and Kobe seemed to get along. However, in the 2011-2012 season, Bryant called out Gasol’s play numerous times and many sources reported that the teammates were fighting off-court and had stopped speaking to each other altogether. In one instance, Kobe called Gasol soft and told him to “put his big boy pants on and just adjust.”
7.) Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant have always had a rocky relationship. When Bynum was playing well, they loved each other. When Bynum was not, the relationship soured. Bynum told ESPN, “[Kobe] wants to win so you always have issues with him if you’re playing poorly or subpar.” After being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012, Bynum said that he thought that playing with Kobe stunted his growth as a player.
6.) Chris Mihm
Chris Mihm was the center for the Lakers between the Shaq and Gasol eras. During his two seasons as the starting center, Mihm averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game — respectable. However, in a 2012 interview with the Orange County Register, Kobe completely disrespected Mihm by saying, “I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown.”
5.) Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown was drafted number one by the Washington Wizards in the 2001 NBA draft. After a few years of underachieving, he was traded to the Lakers. An underachiever in Los Angeles too, Brown was the recipient of some tough criticism from Kobe Bryant.
Bryant publicly criticized Brown in an Orange County Register article saying, “I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team.” Kobe also famously mocked Brown by telling reporters a story of how Brown was afraid to catch the ball while wide open, because he was scared of being fouled.
4.) Smush Parker
Kobe Bryant and Smush Parker never had a good relationship. Apparently on Parker’s first day of practice with the Lakers, he tried to strike up a conversation with Kobe. Bryant responded by saying, “You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.”
Bryant also told the Orange County Register in 2012, “Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. We let him walk on the team.” Parker has also gone on the record as saying, “the problem with [the Lakers] starts and ends with [Kobe].”
3.) Karl Malone
Karl Malone ended his Hall of Fame career by playing with the Lakers for one season. During that season, the teammates became enemies when Kobe accused Malone of hitting on his wife Vanessa. The feud became a huge media sensation and tensions between the two players still exist today. Malone recently told the Huffington Post that he has a “standing offer” to “knuckle up” with Bryant.
2.) Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard was acquired by the Lakers before the start of the 2012-2013 season. His signing hoped to bring another championship to Los Angeles. However, things did not go smoothly during Dwights’ time in LA. He and Kobe did not get along, and they both often expressed criticism of one another to the media.
There were instances in practice where Bryant and Howard had to be restrained from fighting each other. Bryant was often critical of Howard’s shoulder injury and told reporters that Howard had to have a sense of urgency about his injury and that the Lakers did not have time to wait for him.
After Howard was dealt to the Houston Rockets, Lakers coach Byron Scott simply said that the two players “don’t like each other.” Since Howard’s departure, the two have gotten into on-court altercations when the Lakers and Rockets match up. Bryant has made it very clear that he thinks Howard is “soft.”
1.) Shaquille O’Neal
Kobe and Shaq may have been the greatest duo of all time. The two were teammates from 1996-2004 and won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Shaq was the dominant big man and Kobe was the great all-around guard.
Altercations between the two started in 1999 when Kobe started playing too selfishly for Shaq’s liking. In a locker room interview, reporters asked Shaq what the problem was. He pointed across the room to Bryant and said, “There’s the problem.” Shaq’s criticism of Kobe’s selfishness continued through out the Lakers 2000 and 2001 championship runs.
Following the 2000 championship, Shaq showed up to training camp out of shape. Bryant was very critical of the big man’s condition and made it known to the press. The stars continued to butt heads for the next few years, both of them wanting to be the number one option. Shaq was always critical of Kobe’s selfish play and Kobe was always critical of the big fella’s conditioning and the way he handled his toe injury in ’02-’03 season.
Tensions finally got to be too much, and the dynamic duo imploded in the 2004 off-season when O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat. After the trade, Shaq freestyle-rapped his thoughts about Bryant saying “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes.” In 2013 when O’Neal’s jersey was retired by the Lakers, Bryant was nowhere to be seen at the ceremony, despite the fact that he was in the building. Reports say that he was “stretching” at the time.