Shaq was in disbelief when the Los Angeles Lakers fired Phil Jackson, eventually leading him to request an exit from the franchise.
Shaq and Kobe Bryant delivered one of the most devastating punches in NBA history. Unfortunately for them, the problems they had with each other arose from this very description of them. “One-two punch” was something that didn’t go well with either of them because they both thought they were alpha.
The fact that they couldn’t get along at the Los Angeles Lakers because of their desire to be “the one” in “one to two” created turmoil between the two. Arguments that led to close physical confrontations in practices combined with a lack of chemistry on the hardwoods in the NBA forced the Lakers to choose between Shaq or Kobe.
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The summer of 2004 was tumultuous for Jerry Boss and co. Phil Jackson was fired 3 days after losing the Finals to the Detroit Pistons, and the deteriorating relationship between O’Neal and Bryant left no choice but to exchange one of them.
Fortunately for them, the “Great Aristotle” was already on his way out.
Shaq couldn’t stand the Lakers shooting Phil Jackson.
After 3 consecutive championships and 4 total trips to the NBA Finals, Phil Jackson has become one of the most decorated coaches in NBA history. The fact that he prevented the list from unraveling with growing tensions between Kobe Bryant and Shack was testament to the ability of the “Zen Master” to keep his layers apart.
However, when the Lakers decided to fire Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal saw enough. Despite having two more years on his contract with the final year being an option for the player, 3x Finals MVP requested a deal away from Los Angeles, citing Jackson’s firing as one of the main reasons for that.
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Several reasons have emerged since this decision was made. The most common was his affair or lack of it with Kobe, and Jenny Boss recently stated that there was disagreement over how much they should pay him in extending his next contract, with Shaq going for $10 million more than they were willing to pay.
If he waited a year, he would be hailed by Phil Jackson again 361 days after his dismissal, and they would reappoint him and make him the best-paid coach in NBA history in the summer of 2005.