Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal has a new four-part career-spanning documentary series aptly titled “Shaq,” debuting on HBO this Wednesday, November 23.
As part of the show’s launch, director Robert Alexander spoke with Rich Eisen on his YouTube/Peacock/NBC sports program, The Rich Eisen Show.
Alexander provided fascinating behind-the-scenes drama involving O’Neal’s most notorious teammate, fellow Lakers all-timer Kobe Bryant.
“I think there’s a really strong crowd at Kobe,” Alexander said. “There are two sides. For one thing, me and Shaq had a pretty candid conversation about Kobe not being with us anymore, and felt like what he went through with Kobe was in one instance what he personally felt … and then there is this whole world how the outside world keeps its history. And how… both Shaq and Kobe used the media to shape narratives. But Shaq made it very clear to me, he says, “Kobe isn’t with us anymore and it’s like 20 years ago and there’s a lot more, not just our relationship but my experience as a basketball player that I want to make sure that it has weight. And then, as a filmmaker, it was also important for me to say, ‘I’m going to be as honest as possible about this.'”
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“But to be transparent, we also got to a point where we had some part of her story in the film,” Alexander continued. “Kobe’s family essentially asked that we reduce the amount of Kobe that we have in the film.”
“Why?” Rich Eisen asked reasonably.
“I’m not entirely sure, but out of respect for their wishes, we did it, we kept going and we stuck to it… So I’m very proud of what we ended up achieving in terms of the amount of Kobe content.” we have, that relates to Shaq’s story, but at the end of the day it’s a Shaq movie.”
It’s common knowledge that Bryant and O’Neal didn’t get along at all by the end of their Lakers tenure, which is the main reason then-team owner Dr. Jerry Buss ultimately signed a deal to send O’Neal there on the Miami Heat during the 2004 off-season. How much of their rather controversial dynamic will be showcased in these new docuseries remains to be seen.
O’Neal, a 15-time All-Star center, and Bryant, an 18-time All-Star shooting guard, were teammates from 1996-2004. The dynamic duo won three straight titles together from 2000-2002 and reached a fourth NBA Finals in 2004. Bryant died in a helicopter accident in 2020.