Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were Lakers’ teammates for a number of seasons. However, they also maintained one of the most toxic rivalries in the NBA. O’Neal felt threatened by the younger Bryant and attempted to assert his dominance. As Bryant matured and developed, he proved to be unstoppable. Finally, O’Neal departed and Bryant was the last man standing.
In 2003, Bryant rocked the NBA after an interview with Jim Gray. He explained his frustration with Shaq. “There’s more to life than whose team this is,” he told Gray. “But this is his team. That means no more coming into camp fat and out of shape. No more blaming others for our team’s failure. ‘My team’ doesn’t mean only when we win; it means carrying the burden of defeat just as gracefully as you carry a championship trophy.”
We’ve already discussed one of boxing’s most intense rivalries from the perspective of Muhammad Ali. He developed a respect for Frazier, after branding him an Uncle Tom amongst other slurs. However, Frazier never forgave Ali and maintained a loathing for him all through his life. He also had no sympathy for Ali’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease and spoke openly about this.
In 1996, Frazier described his hatred for his rival. “Truth is, I’d like to rumble with that sucker again—beat him up piece by piece and mail him back to Jesus…Now people ask me if I feel bad for him, now that things aren’t going so well for him. Nope. I don’t. Fact is, I don’t give a damn. They want me to love him, but I’ll open up the graveyard and bury his a** when the Lord chooses to take him.”