O’Neal was devastated when he found out what happened to Bryant, and it’s been a challenge for him to deal with the death over the past few months.
Shaq and Kobe dominated during their time together in the NBA
O’Neal and Bryant are two of the best players ever to play in the NBA. They were both dominant at their positions, and when they were both in their prime, the LA Lakers were a tough team to beat. The two joined the Lakers at the same time during the 1996-97 season. It was Bryant’s rookie season while O’Neal was going into his fifth season in the league. They spent eight seasons together in LA and helped revive the Lakers franchise.
The two won their first championship in 2000 when the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers. LA went on to win three consecutive titles from 2000 to 2002, and O’Neal and Bryant were the leaders on those Lakers teams. During the early 2000s, the Lakers dominated the NBA, and you couldn’t mention the Lakers without Bryant and O’Neal.
Both players had their numbers retired by the Lakers, and their legacy will always be remembered in LA. Bryant is currently the all-time leading scorer for the Lakers with 33,643, and O’Neal is seventh all-time with 13,895 points. As a Lakers member, Bryant and O’Neal received numerous individual awards and played in many All-Star games. The two are one of the best duos ever to play in the league.
Shaq did not want to believe that Kobe passed
When the news broke about Bryant’s passing, O’Neal did not want to think it was true. During a TNT special, O’Neal was emotional talking about his former teammate. “The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. We’re not going to be able to say, ‘Ha, I got you got five, you got four.’ The fact that we’re not going to be able to say, ‘If we would’ve stayed together, we could’ve got 10.’ Those are the things you can’t get back,” O’Neal said during the special.
You can see that O’Neal was heartbroken by what happened to Bryant. NBA fans were able to witness how much success Bryant and O’Neal had together during their careers, and they meant a lot to the league and, more importantly, the Lakers organization. Bryant will always be remembered for many years, and he didn’t just impact the NBA. He impacted all of sports with his ‘Mamba Mentality.’
Shaq still ‘coping’ with Bryant’s death
Even though Bryant passed almost nine months ago, O’Neal still has difficulty dealing with it. In an interview with Us Weekly, O’Neal talked briefly about how he’s been dealing with Bryant’s death. “It doesn’t get any easier,” O’Neal said about Bryant’s death. “But I’m coping.”
One can only imagine how O’Neal felt when he first heard the news and was not the only one dealing with this. Bryant’s wife Vanessa, and his three daughters have dealt with the passing of their husband and father. Dealing with death is never easy, and O’Neal is doing his best to try and get through these times, knowing that his friend and former teammate is no longer here on earth.