According to Horace Grant, “egos” strained the Shaquille O’Neal/Penny Hardaway relationship and led Shaq to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. This revelation is a bit of a departure from the popular story line that Shaq left Orlando for more money and more publicity in LA.
Grant shared this insight with Bill Simmons during the Grantland B.S. Report shown above. He compared the tension to Shaq and Kobe Bryant, a much more publicized conflict of egos. Grant also said that he missed a call from Shaq right before he decided to sign with the Lakers, so maybe he’s just shifting the blame off of himself and onto Hardaway.
It’s not clear why Shaq has taken the entirety of the wrath for leaving Orlando and why Penny has remained relatively blameless in the court of public opinion. Most likely it’s because Shaq had the opportunity to stay and didn’t choosing the easy way out in LA. It’s more than a little ironic that the almost exact situation played in LA between Shaq and Kobe. In that instance, Shaq was on the move again and Kobe took the brunt of the blame for breaking up that relationship.
Penny himself didn’t leave Orlando on the best of terms after knee injuries sapped him of his explosive athleticism. He never found much success after leaving Orlando, and Magic fans have a good deal of sympathy for him. Whether it’s their innately forgiving nature, or the introduction of new and more offensive insults (hi Dwight Howard!), Magic fans have been very forgiving after of their stars who have left the team.
Time heals all wounds and apparently everything is all good on the Shaquille O’Neal/Penny Hardaway relationship front. After long NBA careers they both realize how good try had it as young guns and appreciate and respect each other as players and friends.
It’s hard not to wonder what could have been if the Shaquille O’Neal/Penny Hardaway relationship had survived. Would they have won multiple NBA championships? Let us know what you think in the comments section below! Want more magic? Check out our newsletter!