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Snippet of The Book of Basketball 2.0: 2004 Finals, Game 4: Shaq's Last Great Game

From Audio: 2004 Finals, Game 4: Shaq’s Last Great Game (The Rewatchables With J.A. Adande) | Book of Basketball 2.0

Duration: 08:15
An extension of his New York Times #1 bestselling book, The Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons breaks down the NBA's best games, players, and teams. With fresh interviews and top media journalists, Bill digs into the evolution of the NBA. This episode: 2004 Finals and the end of the Shaq/Kobe Lakers.
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An extension of his New York Times #1 bestselling book, The Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons breaks down the NBA's best games, players, and teams. With fresh interviews and top media journalists, Bill digs into the evolution of the NBA. This episode: the 2004 Finals and the end of the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.
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We didn't even talk about how crazy that 0304 regular season was. Where Kobe's flying back and forth to Colorado, Phil Jackson has. I mean, Phil Jackson writes a book after this season called the last season that when I say it's devastating and Kobe, it's That's an understatement because he wanted to trade it. I mean, so many bad stories about it. And one of them was that Kobe, the Lakers are basically paying for the plane to fly him back and forth, which is I don't know how That's not a Sarah kept violation, and he's defending himself in court and then flying the game, showing up 20 minutes for the game and playing. And Phil Jackson says how Kobe complained about the plane. He thought it was gonna be nice. Food wasn't nice enough. And you have this and Kobe statistically, it makes no sense because if you look at the arc of what should have been happening, it's his worst season in like six years. But then it's like, Oh, that's because he was flying back and forth and defending himself in a sexual assault and they've got to eat up major new players to work into, You know, I mean, it had been the same team for a few years, and then, um uh, you know, you add these two major pieces in car Malone and Gary Payton two So they're trying to work them in, uh, in addition, accommodate their egos, You know, two future hall of Famers in addition to all this other stuff going on. But, you know, the key things remember, as you watch this game is that Phil Jackson's contract extension had been yanked off the table right before the right before the all Star break. Very similar to 98 in Chicago. Yes. Although that was earlier. They made that clear going into the season. You know, this year there was kind of optimism that it could all work. And then, you know, right before All Star weekend, the Lakers sent out a press release. They say we're taking, you know, the offer off the table. You know, we're tabling contract discussions. We found out later that, um, might have been in Phil's book that Kobe had met with with Jerry Buss around. Uh, excuse me around, Uh, Super Bowl weekend. It might have been the day of the Super Bowl. Yeah, and, uh, you know, I think he'd have made it clear that Okay, I really don't want Phil around after this. So some highlights from Phil Jackson's book, which really puts into perspective how nutty this season list well, and I was in the locker room. I was around that team every day, and there's some stuff in this book I didn't know about. And when I read all this, I thought, You know what? This is really one of feels better coaching job. It's amazing this team made the finals. So some highlights for Phil Jackson's book. He was so concerned about the team's psyche that he hired a therapist who specialized in narcissism to try to understand the team. Better, uh, he believed Kobe therapist worked with the L A Unified school district. I think that's where we found the guy. Maybe we need that therapist for, I think, the United States of America. Right now Twitter is turned every one of the nurses, uh, he believed Kobe was seen during Twitter, by the way. Oh, my God. This team has been out of control. Uh, he believed Kobe resented shock partly because Shock made 25 year and Kobe at that point there was a cap on salaries. Remember, Kobe voted against the first guy to be impacted by the max salary, right? Like shock and kg and all those guys never got in an extra 20%. Um, he did ask Mitch Kupchak to deal Kobe before the trade deadline. He has a story in the book. They're having this awful team meeting and Rick Fox complaints to Kobe and Shaq and says, The thing that hurts about this season is you both acted like you're apart from us and that we're not any good. Shock is affected, starts to talk. Kobe cuts him off and says, Quit your crying And then Phil Jackson says, Then I jumped in and I said, Kobe, you're as much to blame as shock is, if not more. This sounds like a soap opera. It was. It wasn't soap opera. It's funny. So that year, um, you know, I've been a general columnist at the L A. Times before that year, they assigned me to the full time Lakers. So that was the one year I was traveling on the road with them regular season. So I was more involved with that Lakers season than I have any other season before or since. Um, and it wasn't so. Probably. It's funny because some people, some of my colleagues in the media like, How are you going to find something right about every day with those guys? Guess what? It was really easy, really easy. And you had people like Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, like people who are totally media game. Yeah, um, he says at one point. Are you feeling like you're coming back to the team next season? Jeanie asked me. Well, not if Kobe Bryant. Well, not if Kobe Bryant is on the team next year. I told her he's too complex of a person. I don't need this. It seems like you read this book and it seems like Phil spent so much time in his life trying to figure out Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan was easier to figure out because it was like this guy just wants to beat everybody. I get it. Kobe was just like there's just layers and layers behind the layers, and he's not talking to his family, and he's got the rape trial thing going on, and just on and on and on. It just seems like he could never get a handle on him. I think he figured it out five years later. It seems like it. And they matured, you know, and Kobe haven't been in. It helped that Kobe had that one year without Phil, um, both to recognize how Phil's triangle offense helped Kobe and also just the value of Phil Jackson, you know, So it helped that they had that separation. And then fill comes back less than a year later, which is pretty crazy after this book is published. Like the Lakers are so nuts. So everything you just said, Think about that. All those things he said printed. You know, it's all out there. It seems like there's no going back after this book comes. And yet they still come back and win four championships together. Sorry about that book and never say a word to each other, he wrote. Kobe is missing out by not finding a way to become part of a system that evolved, giving something larger than himself. He could have been an heir apparent to MJ, maybe one as many championships. He may still win a championship or two, but the boyish hero image has been replaced by that of a callous gun slinger he's coaching over a year later, how do you come out again? They both needed each other, you know, And And this, more than anything, is proof that no, no relationship in sports is irreparable, right? I mean, if this one. So this is the craziest one of Kyle. You're gonna have to, like, be ready. You just be ready. Don't fall over. So it's Phil talking about when he found out about the allegations in Colorado. You're not going to believe this, Mitch Kupchak said, telling me about Kobe and the rape allegations in Colorado. Was I surprised? Yes, but not entirely. Kobe can be consumed with surprising anger, which is displayed toward me and his teammates. What the hell is that? I wasn't totally surprised by rape allegations. How does Kobe come back from that? All the stuff nuts. All right, let's go to the finals. So there's one other thing in that book, I think it was said in the book and explained a lot, and Phil kind of summarized the difference between Kobe and Shaq, and he said that shock will tell you he's not going to do something. And then he will and Kobe will say, Yeah, I'll do it right then we'll just do whatever the fuck I thought really summarized that the differences between their approaches and that was kind of exemplified in the no, he said Shock would complain, but then he would do it and do it, Yeah, did I say it wrong? I don't I just want to Yeah, but that was the thing he said. Shock would say, I'm not going to do it And then he would and Kobe said, Yeah, I'll do it And then he would do the opposite. Whereas so a great example of that is I'm pretty sure in the 2004 series against the Spurs, where Phil comes out and says we need shock to operate out of the high post. We can't have in the low post, you know, they've got the to bigs and it's not working down there and Shaq says I'm not a decoy. I'm not gonna do that, you know, I'm a real center. Give me the ball in the low post. I'm not going to just be a decoy and be passing out the high post. And then they get in the game and their shocking the high post passing like he's Bill Walton at U C L. A or something. So that was a classic example of what Phil meant, and then Kobe sometimes, you know, and I remember asking the guys on the team I'm like, Why do you give the ball here and why? Why are you doing this if if you know, you know you're not gonna get the ball back And he says because in practice he goes along and he does the offense and then we get in the game and it's just something completely different, Yeah. I mean, this is something Doc Rivers tried to use against him.
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