You’d be hard pressed to find five or ten players in the history of professional sports with more passion, heart and desire than that of the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant.
Say what you will about Bryant, like him or not, he has a near unrivaled level of determination – maybe at times to a fault.
The constant soap opera that was the early 2000′s Los Angeles Lakers eventually became too much for all parties involved, something that Bryant played a significant role in breaking up. But it wasn’t the public perception of the Lakers that bothered Bryant, it was his own teammates, specifically Shaquille O’Neal.
During last night’s taping of “Kobe Up Close”, Bryant suggested that public and media perception that he couldn’t win without Shaq didn’t actually bother him. Rather, what did upset him was Shaq suggesting the same thing – a statement Bryant said he had to prove wrong.
Per the Los Angeles Times:
In addition to praising Shaquille O’Neal for what they accomplished together, he remembered some of the more difficult times.
“It never bothered me that people said, ‘You only won championships because you’re playing with Shaq.’ It bothered me when he said it,” Bryant said. “I had to prove that I could win without him.”
Prove it he did as Bryant and his Lakers appeared in three consecutive NBA Finals, winning two of them in back-to-back seasons.