Hate is a strong word. Yet that is the feeling Phil Jackson got from Kobe Bryant during his first stint coaching the Lakers. According to Jackson, there were several times he could physically feel Bryant's hatred of him.

From Jackson's conversation with ESPN's Charley Rosen:

In an interview in GQ, Kobe didn't have anything nice to say about you. In fact, he said that he disliked you. Your reaction?

Jackson: "Ah, my good friend Kobe Bryant. ... Yes, quite often I could feel his hatred. I'm sure Kobe was pissed when I wrote in "The Last Season" that he was uncoachable. And, yes, we were often at loggerheads. He wanted more freedom and I wanted him to be more disciplined. This is a normal source of friction thing between coaches and players on just about every level of competition. But when I came back for my second stint with the Lakers, Kobe and I worked it all out. I gave him more of a license to do his thing, as long as it stayed within the overall context of the triangle. And we did win two more championships. Anyway, I've always seen Kobe as a truly great player, an intelligent guy and a remarkable person."

During the early 2000s, Bryant did seem visibly frustrated at times and Jackson basically confirms this in his answer to Rosen's question. Although it is doubtful that Bryant actually hated Jackson, like any working relationship, they probably just didn't see eye-to-eye all the time. This was also when Bryant was in his early 20's and believed he should be the Lakers' number one player not Shaquille O'Neal. Despite the animosity between Bryant and O'Neal, the Lakers were able to work together to win three straight NBA titles from 2000 to 2002.

It is also not surprising to learn that Jackson's relationship with Bryant improved once the ball was in his hands and O'Neal was out of the picture. Bryant got his wish to be the number one guy on the Lakers which resulted in two more championship rings for him and Jackson.

That is why Jackson still speaks so positively about Bryant. They may have had some heated disagreements but in the end, they won together and winning heals all wounds. Especially for someone as competitive as Bryant.

Kobe Bryant had an unique relationship with Phil Jackson.
Kobe Bryant had an unique relationship with Phil Jackson. (USATSI)