In the months that have moved along since Kobe Bryant‘s tragic passing in late January, it has offered a chance to reflect on his career and impact on the game of basketball. It has also presented an opportunity for many of his former teammates and coaches to think about their personal dealings with Bryant over the years. Among those has been the most vocal over the past few months has been Shaquille O’Neal as he has been rocked hard emotionally from the loss. With that in mind, O’Neal has voiced there is one thing that he would change about his standing with his former longtime.
Shaq and Kobe Bryant’s relationship
It was well-documented over the years the type of relationship that O’Neal and Bryant shared.
There was a fair share of ups and downs during their time together and the years that followed. However, there always was a healthy mutual respect for what each other brought to the court. Together, they were one of the best combinations in NBA history that drove the Los Angeles Lakers to three NBA titles in four trips to the Finals.
Their banter off the court did create many internal issues, but it didn’t negatively impact the success that they had together in Los Angeles. The standing of their relationship will always be a hot topic of discussion whenever their era together is brought up.
At the same time, things had improved between them as years wore on, and they garnered more wisdom and maturity. The conversation also changed since Bryant’s tragic passing as it created a whole new perspective from O’Neal about how he felt he should have gone about handling their friendship.
Shaq’s regret about his relationship with Kobe
Since Bryant’s passing, O’Neal has spent much of that time reflecting on his relationship with his former Lakers’ teammate.
The two had their tiffs off the court, but things had moved past those previous lingering issues from their time together in Los Angeles. During a recent interview Sports Like a Boss with Holly McPeak & Anne Marie Anderson, O’Neal stated that he wishes that he could have rekindled his friendship more with Bryant. (H/T Ron Gutterman of Lakers Nation)
“The reminder is.. that it makes me get into wish mode… Cuz listen, we respected each other. We’re friends. We’re not call everyday friends, but I wish that I had talk to him more, I wish I could’ve said ‘hey, how you doing’, I wish I could’ve said ‘hey, you know the Hall of Fame thing is coming up. You know you gonna be on that list’”
It’s clear that Bryant’s loss has hurt O’Neal deeply while it has given him a greater appreciation for his time with the 18-time All-Star and the relationship that the cultivated. There were some tumultuous times, but things has significant improved in recent years that could have seen that bond grow stronger.
There will always be a solidified connection between them due to their success on the court, but O’Neal never truly had the chance to further expand that off of it.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy grows stronger
It has been a tough transition for many to cope with the realization that Bryant, along with his daughter and seven others are no longer here.
That has brought forth a greater appreciation for his impact on the game and the legacy he has left. Bryant had impacted many people well beyond the game of basketball.
The tragic situation has only created a strong connection to him and what he has meant to many that knew him and the fans that grew to adore him through his play and mindset. It has been a challenging process for many, including O’Neal, but that will only turn to grander respect for what he brought to the table for his craft.