When Shaquille O’Neal Got Angry at Kobe Bryant for Wearing Michael Jordan Jersey During Lakers 3-Peat

Shaquille O’Neal was mad at Kobe Bryant for wearing a Michael Jordan jersey and the reason behind it is something that you won't believe. It happened during the 2002 NBA Finals.

Updated on Apr 02, 2024  |  09:29 AM IST |  51.4K
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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal

In 2002, the LA Lakers were at their absolute peak with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal at the helm. The back-to-back NBA champions were looking to do a three-peat and were just four games away from it.

As the finals started, Kobe Bryant came up with a unique idea to honor several legendary sports figures who had come before him.

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Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant

What was the matchday ritual that Bryant did?

Bryant would show up for every game donning the jersey of an athlete from a different sport. He honored the legendary football player known for his skill and charisma by donning a Joe Namath jersey for the New York Jets during Game 1.

Bryant honored Jackie Robinson by donning a Brooklyn Dodgers jersey for Game 2. Robinson was one of the very first athletes who broke down the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

This time, Bryant chose hockey and donned a Wayne Gretzky jersey while traveling for Game 3. Arguably one of the best hockey players of all time.

Kobe Bryant

However, in game 4, Bryant showed up sporting a Michael Jordan jersey from the Chicago Bulls. This was to pay tribute to arguably the best basketball player and to show that he aims to be as great as him. The gesture was highlighted even more when Bryant smoked a cigar in celebration of the Lakers' victory.

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There was only one issue. Shaquille O'Neal was offended by his act of homage, but it wasn't because he was fighting against Jordan. Big Diesel believed Bryant was a legend already and so he pushed for Bryant to remove the jersey.

What did Shaquille O’Neal say?


“It's time to take that jersey off and put your own jersey on,” O'Neal said. Bryant simply responded by saying “It's about time now?” while smoking a cigar.

When we talk about Kobe showing up in different jerseys, it is more than just about a fashion statement. It was Bryant’s way of showing admiration for the sportsmen who made it possible for men like him to become household names in the industry.

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