"It used to drive me crazy that he was so lazy," said Bryant of O'Neal to the New Yorker. "You got to have the responsibility of working every single day."
Bryant and O'Neal won three titles together with the Lakers before the team sent O'Neal in trade to the Miami Heat in 2004, where he won his fourth title in 2006.
Bryant discussed a number of topics with the New Yorker, including an ongoing bet with a business associate that Katy Perry will have more staying power than Justin Bieber on the pop scene.
The All-Star guard's prediction was made before Bieber's arrest on suspicion of drag racing and driving under the influence.
Bryant also said that his play last season, before he tore his Achilles' tendon in April 2013, was some of the best of his life.
"Last year was the best basketball I've played in my entire career," said Bryant. "I've never worked so hard in my life to prepare for a game, in film study, quarterbacking on the floor, putting everybody in the right position, and then having to take care of my body."
The Lakers overcame injuries and a slow start to finish 45-37, but were swept out of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs while Bryant recovered from Achilles' surgery.