Shaquille O'Neal had disagreements with Kobe Bryant during their career but years later they reconciled and cared for each other.
The unexpected death of NBA player Kobe Bryant on 26 January 2020 came as a shock to everyone including his family, friends, and fans. While some people are struggling to cope up with the pain of losing the dear player in private, some have gathered the strength to share their thoughts with the world. Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant's co-Laker player broke down speaking about the incident.
According to UPROXX, the NBA player opened up during the TNT special that paid tribute to Bryant. O'Neal did not hold his emotions but let it all out in a long speech that remembered the great times with Bryant, his pain of losing him and the regrets he had.
The 47-year-old former player recalled the moment he was informed of the death of Bryant. "So the other day, I'm downstairs working out with my son Shaqir and my nephew Columbus, and my other nephew comes in crying. And he shows me his phone, and I snapped at him. I said, 'man, get that out of my face,'" said O’Neal. He was not convinced by what he saw. He also said, "We live in a world where anything can be photoshopped, anything can be hoaxed. I didn't want to believe it."
Soon, he was faced with the heartbreaking reality. On receiving calls from his friends in the industry, the player discovered the news had already been confirmed. "It was sort of like a triple stabbing to the heart. Because after you cry and wonder about that, then I get back on the internet, Rick Fox is on the plane. Then I’m sick even more. I’m calling Rick, he’s not answering. So now I’m like, what’s going on. And then, the final blow. His lovely daughter was with him on the helicopter," said O’Neal. He was in pain, an inexplicable one.
"I haven't felt a pain that sharp in a while. [I'm] 47 years old, I lost two grandmothers, I lost a sarge, lost my sister, and now I lost a little brother," said O'Neal tearfully.
Though O’Neal and Bryant had played for the same team, their relationship was not always smooth. However, as years went by, the two players reconciled. "Our names will be attached together for what we did. People always ask about our relationship, and I tell them it's just like me and Charles. You got two strong-minded people that are going to get it done their way, that are going to say certain things. The respect will never be lost," said the player.
He further went on to say how he regretted not talking to Bryant often. He said, “That’s just how we are. Of course, when we saw each other it was love and respect and you know looking out for the kids. His daughter Gigi was a fabulous player. I just wish I could have talked to him before, that’s it,” said O’Neal. He continued, “I just wish he was here. I wish I could say something to him.”
The player who was visibly broken by the accident stated that Bryant had spoken to his son, Shareef just hours before his death. “He saw my kids. He loved them. If you look at my kid’s Instagram, he talked to Shareef yesterday morning. So, all of that stuff that was documented between us was never a dislike. I love Kobe Bryant,” said O’Neal, according to People.
He admitted the pain of losing Bryant was going to stay with him for long. “We are still the best duo ever created. That’s never going to change. For me, this is going to hurt a long time. I really lost a brother yesterday.”
The former Laker player even took to Instagram to address the loss, “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!”