Shaquille O’Neal recollects the heartbreaking moment when he learned about the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
There is no player in the history of the game who was more dedicated than Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. He is easily one of the greatest players to step on the court. His drive to be the best version of himself is what set him apart from all his competitors. We have often heard tales of the Mamba’s determination to be the best player there can ever be.
Preaching the “Mamba Mentality” to his millions of fans, Kobe is definitely one of the most influential players to grace the league. However, the whole world came to a standstill when the 18-time All-Star sadly died in a 2020 helicopter crash.
Kobe Bryant’s Hall-Of-Famer teammate, Shaquille O’Neal too was shocked by the sudden passing. In a recent appearance on the podcast “All The Smoke”, the 7-foot-1 15-time All-Star revealed the heartbreaking moment when he learned about Kobe’s death.
“One day, I’m downstairs working out with my youngest son Shaqir, and one of my other sons comes in the gym, and he’s crying. When I say crying, I’m talking about tears everywhere. So, I’m like, ‘My mom OK? Your mom OK? My kids OK?’ Then I see the Kobe thing.”
“So, now I’m like, ‘It gotta be a hoax.’ Because I was watching the game when ‘Bron passed him up (on the scoring list). ‘Probably just somebody messing around on the internet.’ Then the calls just kept coming in; then you go watch TV, and it just hit.”
“We didn’t always get along but I should’ve kept checking in on him”: Shaquille O’Neal on Kobe Bryant
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are one of the most dominant duos in league history during their Los Angeles Lakers days. Behind their leadership, the Lakers went on to win three straight NBA titles from 2000-2003.
Despite their on-court successes, Shaq and Kobe did have their fair share of differences. It’s not unknown that both the Hall-Of-Famers didn’t quite get along with each other. However, they did manage to keep aside their differences and have a great relationship later in their careers.
O’Neal went on to speak about the mutual respect the two shared. Shaq further regretted not calling him and keeping a check on him every now and then. He added:
“I shoulda reached out to young fella, I shoulda just called to just check on him — I shoulda. Things like that you can never get back.”
“You know how it is as basketball players, we don’t always get along. But if the respect is there, you can never be beaten,” O’Neal, who now reaches out to loved ones more often, added. “You all know him: he was an alpha. You all know me: I was an alpha. We didn’t always agree on things, but when it comes time to compete on the court, I think the fact that we always competed with each other made us even more unstoppable.”
Even though the Black Mamba isn’t with us anymore, his legacy will always be immortalised and continue to live on.