Kobe Bryant, Shaq and Phil Jackson stories from the Lakers dynasty with author Jeff Pearlman

Kobe Bryant, Shaq and Phil Jackson stories from the Lakers dynasty with author Jeff Pearlman


Kobe Bryant, Shaq and Phil Jackson stories from the Lakers dynasty with author Jeff Pearlman

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On this episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto is joined by New York Times best-selling author Jeff Pearlman. Scotto and Pearlman discuss behind the scenes stories from Pearlman’s new book, Three-Ring Circus. Topics included the relationship between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry Stackhouse and Kobe’s infamous one-on-one game, and how an Adidas shoe deal influenced Bryant to go to the NBA out of high school. The pair also discussed who Phil Jackson was as a person, Isaiah Rider’s crazy reasons for missing practices, the reason for the breakup of the dynasty in 2004, and Jeanie Buss’ thoughts on the dynasty.

0:49 Toughest challenge writing the book, including interviewing Kobe

2:03 Who had the best insight into Kobe as a person?

Pearlman: “There’s a difference between knowing someone casually and knowing someone deeply. He’s a guy, who when he got married, none of his teammates were invited to the wedding. Most of his teammates didn’t know he was getting married.”

3:31 What Pearlman learned about Kobe as a person

Pearlman: “He arrived his first day with the Lakers in training camp in 1996 when all the players are going around and introducing themselves in a circle, Kobe’s introduction is, ‘My name is Kobe Bryant, I’m from Lower Merion, and nobody here is gonna punk me.’”

“I think that’s sort of a getaway into the Shaq and Kobe relationship. Shaq wanted Kobe to need him, and he wanted Kobe to turn to him. He wanted Kobe to be like his sidekick.”

5:15 The relationship of Shaq and Kobe

Pearlman: “When I went to Atlanta and interviewed Shaq, he said something that really stuck with me, and I thought about a ton. It was near the end of the interview, and I said to him, “One thing that I find interesting is Kobe sort of nicknamed himself the Black Mamba. He took it very seriously.” Whenever Shaq gave himself a nickname, Shaq Diesel or the Big Aristotle, Superman, it was always with a wink and laugh. It was never too serious. It was kind of a joke to him. I said that to Shaq, and he said to me, “Now you know what I was dealing with.” I just think he was so lighthearted and just wanted people to need him.”

6:43 Stories of Shaq giving back to his teammates

7:39 Did Shaq or Kobe give the impression that they regretted splitting up?

Pearlman: “I think Shaq was really happy to go on to Miami and play with Dwyane Wade and win a title. I think Kobe was really happy to go on and do it without Shaq and do it with (Pau) GasolLamar Odom, and those guys. It was just done. It was a finished product. They really were tired of each other.”

8:28 The 2003-04 Lakers season with Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Jackson

Pearlman: “Shaq wants a contract extension and actually yells at Jerry Buss when he’s sitting courtside, “Pay me!” Kobe is flying back and forth to Eagle, Colorado, because of his sexual assault pending trial and was mad at the Lakers for not flying him in nicer conditions. He’s about to be a free agent. He’s pretty much decided he’s going to the Clippers. At one point, he tells Mike Dunleavy, the Clippers coach, ‘Get me out of here.’”

9:18 Why Kobe and Shaq didn’t get along from the beginning

Pearlman: “Shaq arrives after four years in Orlando, and he’s used to being this dominant force. Kobe arrives from high school, and inexplicably thinks he should be a dominant force immediately and is convinced he’s not only the next (Michael) Jordan, but he should be the current Jordan. I’m great and better than Eddie Jones. I should be starting. Why aren’t I getting my touches? I think that definitely rubbed Shaq wrongly in many ways. There were little moments along the way. Before Phil Jackson was hired, the season before, Kurt Rambis was the interim coach, and he just viewed it as one of his jobs to take Kobe Bryant under his wing and nurture him. Shaq just thought he babied him and it kind of annoyed the hell out of him.”

“During the strike back in 1999, Shaq was really against it. Kobe was for it. Shaq’s agent was against it. Kobe’s agent was for it. They played a pickup game they got into blows, they were fighting each other. Kobe drives to the lane and rips Shaq for calling too many fouls. Shaq slaps him across the face and says, ‘I’ll get you traded to Vancouver.’”

12:07 The reason for the dynasty breakup in 2004

Pearlman: “I think it was Kobe, to be honest. I’m not trying to speak ill of the deceased at all, but I think it was Kobe. I think he needed to be the guy. He had this need to be the guy.”

13:13 The story of Stackhouse playing Kobe in high school

Pearlman: “I DM Stackhouse over Twitter, and he wrote back one of my favorite DMs ever. He said, “What’s up, brother? Hope all is well. Probably not the one to talk much about Kobe to expand on all the myth of him beating me as a high schooler, but to his credit, I’ve never heard him say it. But he hasn’t denied it either, so basically f— him.’”

15:19 Sneaker stories of Sonny Vaccaro and Kobe

Pearlman: “Sonny Vaccaro was very early on in the Kobe train. It’s funny because if you look back at all this talk of will Kobe go to college or will he go to the NBA, he knew he was going to the NBA well before anyone else did and even when he was talking about Duke. The reason he knew is because adidas offered him this huge shoe deal.”

17:36 Rider’s stories from missing practices and notes to Jackson

22:20 Pearlman’s favorite interviews for the book

25:03 What Pearlman learned about Jackson

Pearlman: “He was basically the product of fundamentalist ministers. He never danced until he went to college. He never drank until he went to college. He started driving a car when I think he was eight or nine”

“He’s kind of endearingly awkward. He’s not smooth.”

27:04 Jeanie Buss’ thoughts on the 2003-04 Lakers and Kobe

You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto

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