Things sure have gotten chummy between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant since their Los Angeles Lakers breakup.

The two didn’t work out their differences to maintain what could have been one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NBA. But it’s all smiles, apologies and mutual admiration since they’ve left the game.

O’Neal chimes in on GOAT debate

O’Neal took his adulation of his former teammate a step further in a Wednesday Bleacher Report piece asking why big men aren’t considered in the greatest-of-all-time debate that revolves around Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

It’s an interesting question. Before Jordan peaked, the discussion generally centered on Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar occasionally thrown into the mix.

No more. It’s MJ or LeBron, and nobody else.

O’Neal doesn’t put himself in the conversation

Did the ever-boastful Shaq nominate himself up when given the opportunity? No. He deferred to Bryant — with aplomb.

“I find it quite disrespectful that they don’t bring Kobe’s name up,” O’Neal told Bleacher Report. “That kind of pisses me off how they just skip over him and say, ‘LeBron.’ I don’t understand that. Because I was there with him, and he was a bad motherf—–, too.”

Shaq, the Kobestan

So there it is. Shaq has taken his deference to Bryant to a new level. Bryant, owner of five rings to his four, is not only the better player, but possibly the best player of all time in O’Neal’s mind.

The idea, of course, is ridiculous — a debate that’s long been settled outside the minds of the staunchest of Kobestans. Bryant was great — one of the greatest ever.

But he was also a relatively inefficient scorer who didn’t dominate the league like Jordan or transcend the game like James. It’s not an insult to acknowledge that he doesn’t belong in that stratosphere.

But it’s nice to hear O’Neal stick up for his former partner. They had a great run whether they liked each other or not.

Source: Jason Owens