You know what they say about Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant — once a Shaq and Kobe, always a Shaq and Kobe.

Here’s example 49,274,013, which is Shaq responding to a subliminal diss from Kobe, courtesy of the New York Times:

Q. Kobe Bryant reportedly criticized you when he was in Italy recently. “I like players who workout,” Bryant said, according to a post on Sportando. “I use to do that 6, 7 hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them.” Any response?

A. No. I don’t need to work out. My numbers speak for itself. My three Finals M.V.P.s speaks for itself.

These guys, man. They just cannot stop being themselves. Not that they should, mind you, just that it’s completely impossible for them to not zing each other back and forth. Even though they last played on the same team seven years ago. Even though Shaq is retired. Even though Shaq is ostensibly an impartial journalist now. (Which reminds me how hilarious it’s going to be to see Shaq and Kobe “joking” with each other on Inside the NBA whenever basketball happens again. That’s going to be so awesome to see those guys acting like they like each other a few times a year. Must see television whenever that happens.)

And of course, here is the standard text where it is explained that an in-shape, motivated Shaquille O’Neal would be the best basketball player ever and he probably wouldn’t have got injured all the time and his career would turned out even better than it did if he’d have had Kobe’s dedication to staying fit. Boilerplate Shaq stuff. You get it.

Just remember that he probably should have worked out more even if he didn’t think he needed to. And then look forward to the time when Shaq and Charles Barkley first sit next to each other and we all worry about whether the stage’s risers have exceeded their weight limit. That’ll be fun.

(via I Am a GM)