Shaq and Kobe. Kobe and Shaq. The way the Lakers’ dynamic duo is being talked about, you’d think they were married. Their feud has dominated the buzz around the NBA in recent weeks and threatens to implode a team that is the defending champion but is barely clinging to third place in their own division.

What’s the problem?

I think Kobe Bryant was staring in the mirror too long and fell in love with himself, because he seems to think he’s Michael Jordan. Memo to Kobe: You’re not. Kobe is good, no doubt, and at least he doesn’t play hoops like Jordan plays baseball, but he’s not the man . at least not yet.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson seems to just want to let everything between O’Neal and Bryant just play itself out, but I’m thinking he can do a little bit more for that $6 million paycheck. Giving your players a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle aintenance isn’t going to cut it this time, Phil. Neither is bringing in Isaiah “Don’t call me J.R.” Rider. After all, there’s no way he’ll be as much of a sideshow as Dennis Rodman was . no rainbow hair to distract the media.

Maybe a little damage control from Jackson would help. Telling the media that Kobe needs to feed the ball to Shaq more often isn’t exactly going to appease a 22-year-old superstar. Maybe now people might realize that a smelly, yellow sock puppet could have coached the Bulls to six championships. There was this Jordan guy there who was probably a little more instrumental in Chicago’s success than Zen boy.

Now the only remnant from the Bulls that Jackson has out on the left coast is aging power forward Horace Grant who, like everyone else, tossed in his two cents on the Shaq-Kobe feud.

“I love winning championships,” Grant said to USA Today. “You can’t have two Batmans. You have to have one Batman and a Robin.”

So Shaq and Kobe can’t both be Batman, which makes sense, but judging by Shaq’s 1997 film Steel (93 minutes of sheer, unadulterated pain), he’s not ready to be any sort of superhero. In any case, he’d probably have trouble fitting in the Batmobile. Then again, Shaq isn’t going to look too good running around the court in a tight yellow Robin leotard. Maybe some more advice from Grant will clear things up.

“My whole career wasn’t built on scoring or a big ego,” Grant added in his conversation with USA Today. You don’t say, Horace. That’s because you’re not particularly good and you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a jump shot. Maybe it’s time to turn to former Laker and current New Jersey Nets coach Byron Scott for an insight into his former team.

“Not trying to be negative toward women, but it was almost like women’s basketball against men,” Scott said about his team’s recent performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. “Guys hit them and they squirm and everything, and they kind of shy away.”

Maybe the Nets are the ones that should be wearing leotards on the court, but that doesn’t help explain what’s going on with the Lakers.

Disgruntled Washington Wizards guard Rod Strickland has strong feelings on the subject, as he’s been involved in a few feuds of his own: With teammates, former teammates, coaches, the concept of driving in a sober state of mind, management, fans, officials and agents. Unfortunately, he has also feuded with the press and therefore doesn’t really like to discuss anything with anybody.

Fortunately, we don’t need Rod or anyone else to get to the bottom of the epic Kobe-Shaq feud. Kobe’s scoring 29.6 points per game. Shaq’s only pouring in 26.8. There you go. The Lakers have two monster talents and two monster egos, but only one team leader.

Kobe may soon be the best player in the NBA and is invaluable to the Lakers, but it is still Shaq’s time, and Los Angeles will need him come the postseason.

The postseason is all that matters, anyway. That gives Kobe and Shaq three months to feud, squabble, whine, fight, yell and manipulate poor Phil Jackson, at which point they’ll either be ready to roll through the rest of the NBA or get divorced.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.