Shaquille O’Neal Used A Classic Mafia Movie Trope To Explain Why He Had To Leave Kobe Bryant

09.07.16 3 years ago

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Perhaps you’ve heard, but it’s Shaq Week over at NBA TV. In the lead-up to his Hall of Fame enshrinement this weekend, the network is doing all sorts of career highlights and retrospectives, one of the major events being “The Big Conversation,” an hour-long sit-down with TNT co-host Ernie Johnson, which premiered Wednesday night.

At one point, the discussion inevitably turned to his tumultuous relationship with Kobe Bryant, which ultimately led to his defection to Miami. And Shaq certainly didn’t disappoint when answering the question why he left Los Angeles. Via

“I didn’t want to leave, but being the veteran in the business of basketball, I realize that they’re can’t be two kings,” O’Neal said. “Every great movie that I’ve seen, mafia movies, the younger boss always takes out the older boss. So I knew it was going to happen. I said to myself going into the Finals, I put together this super team. I brought in Gary Payton. I brought in Karl Malone, Kobe, myself. I said if we don’t win, change is going to have to be made. Once we lost, I knew I was going to be in trouble.”

It’s a hilarious comparison, but essentially pretty accurate in terms of how things actually played out. The Lakers did, in fact, make a decision to move forward with Kobe rather than Shaq. But as opposed to being fitted for a pair of cement boots, the Big Diesel went onto to win a championship with the Heat, then slipped comfortably into a journeyman’s groove toward the end of his career, a fate much unlike that of most overthrown mafia dons, fictional or otherwise.


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