Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal will soon be the primary subject of a career-spanning documentary series aptly named “Shaq.” While fans would assume that late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant would play a rather large role in the series, it looks like that may not be the case.
The reason for that is because Bryant’s family reportedly requested that O’Neal and the rest of the creators behind the upcoming series “reduce the amount” of Bryant in the project.
“I think there’s a really strong amount of Kobe,” director Robert Alexander said. “There’s two sides to it. One is that, me and Shaq had a pretty honest conversation about Kobe not being with us anymore, feeling like what he went through with Kobe was, in one instance, what he felt personally…and then there’s this whole world of how the outside world holds their story. And how…both Shaq and Kobe used the media to shape narratives. But Shaq made it very clear to me, he’s like, ‘Kobe’s not with us anymore, and this is 20 years ago, and there’s a lot more to not only our relationship but my experience as a basketball player, that I want to make sure has weight.’ And then to me as a filmmaker, it was also important for me to say, ‘I approach this as honest as possible.’”
He added that plans did have to change slightly based on the Bryant family’s request.
“But to be transparent, we also got to a point where we had a certain amount of their story in the film,” Alexander continued. “Kobe’s family essentially requested that we reduce the amount of Kobe we have in the film.”
When interviewer Rich Eisen asked why, Alexander made it clear that the team decided to respect the family’s wishes.
“I’m not totally sure, but out of respect for their wishes we did it, we went ahead and we complied. … So I’m very proud of what we ended up with, as far as the amount of Kobe content that we have, that relates to Shaq’s story, but at the end of the day it’s a Shaq film.”
As Lakers fans know quite well, O’Neal and Bryant enjoyed incredible success as teammates on the Lakers, winning three straight NBA championships from 2000 to 2002.
However, the power dynamic that took place between the two superstars also led to a lot of strife both behind the scenes and in public. Ultimately, the dynamic between the two players played a role in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004.
The two had a strained relationship at times, and O’Neal has been very open about the regrets that he has now that Bryant is gone. In fact, very recently, O’Neal reflected on the topic by saying that he should have called Bryant more.
“You put off [getting in touch],” O’Neal, 50, told People. “I’ll never get to see Kobe again, in real life, forever. And I just should have called. He should have called. We both should have called. But he’s working, I’m working, so it’s ‘I’ll see you when I see you.’”
There is no doubt that Bryant’s family has every right to request that people deal with the topic respectfully. Surely, Alexander, O’Neal and the rest of the “Shaq” team have done everything possible to make sure that they can tell the full story without taking advantage of the situation.