Back when Shaquille O’Neal was playing at Orlando, he clicked a photo with a kid in the locker room. That kid turned out to be the legend, Kobe Bryant.
It is pretty well known that Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant weren’t always the best of friends early in the careers. In fact, their relationship got so bad, that the 7-foot-1 big man decided to part ways with the Lakers due to his relationship with the Black Mamba.
Recently, Shaq revealed a hilarious story about his first meeting with Bryant. Like most young stars get to meet NBA players when they are young, Kobe too, managed to enter the Orlando Magic locker room hoping to met Penny Hardaway.
When Penny didn’t spend time with a young Kobe, Shaq was the one to show love and click photo with the young fan. On the Rex Chapman Show, Shaq revealed:
“Little kid comes the locker room we were in Orlando he wants to see Penny Hardaway it’s Kobe. I never knew this until Kobe told me this story. He wants to see Penny.”
“Penny’s not a bad guy but Penny- I don’t know what’s going on that day- he just, ‘whatever’. And then Kobe was standing there and I actually remember this day. The kid was sitting there and I grabbed him and said, ‘come on little fella. I’ll take a picture with you.’”
Later on, Kobe reminded Shaq of the first time they met and the big man didn’t even know who he was
After his stint at the Orlando Magic, Shaq decided to team up with an 18-year-old Kobe at the Los Angeles Lakers. When talking about two of the most dominant duos in the league’s history, one can easily rank Bryant and O’Neal on top of their list. The two were able to dominate the league night in and night out, while managing to win a three-peat playing together at the Lakers.
Despite playing with him, Shaq still didn’t recognise that Kobe was the young fan with who he had once clicked a photo. He only knew when Bryant reminded him about it. Shaq revealed:
“I never knew that kid was Kobe until he told me. We played together, had our fights and battles together, then we did that, Lakers, sit down here and Kobe said, ‘Hey man. You remember when I came to the locker room, and I wanted to see Penny and he blew me off?’ I was like, ‘That was you?’ he said, ‘Yeah, that was me’.”
Obviously, no one, including Shaq knew who the young kid would turn out to be. Today, Mamba is an 18-time All-Star with one of the most illustrious careers the league has ever seen.
Even years after his retirement, the impact Kobe and his “Mamba Mentality” has on his millions of fans, just shows us how influential the legend Kobe Bryant was.