Winning three titles together, Shaquille O’Neal paid tribute to his “little brother” and longtime Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. The speech was made during a memorial service at the Staples Center (Feb. 24), the arena where O’Neal and Bryant displayed a unique on-court bond that continued to strengthen after both retired from the league.
O’Neal referred to the Black Mamba as “a loyal friend and a true renaissance man,” telling a story of how their Lakers teammates were upset that Bryant kept hogging the ball. “I said, ‘Kobe, there’s no I in team. And Kobe said, ‘I know but there’s an M-E in that motherfu**er.’ So I went back and told Rick and Big Shot Bob, ‘Just get the rebound, he’s not passing.”
The Inside the NBA co-host then stated that Bryant’s presence will always be felt and that he and his loved ones will continue the healing process in order to keep his spirit and legacy going strong. “Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life was just beginning but now it’s time for us to continue your legacy,” O’Neal continued. “You said it yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges are all an opportunity for me to rise so we now take that sage advice and now rise from that anguish and begin with the healing.”
As for Bryant’s daughters (Natalia, Bianca, and Capri), O’Neal said he’ll still teach them Mamba’s sports skills, but not his “free throw techniques.” O’Neal continued, “For now I take comfort in the fact, as we speak, Kobe and Gigi are holding hands walking to the nearest basketball court. Kobe will show her some new Mamba moves today and Gigi soon masters them.”
Watch snippets of his speech below.
Shaq shares a story about telling Kobe “there was no I in team.”
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 24, 2020
“Now it’s time for us to continue your legacy.”
Shaq on Kobe’s impact. pic.twitter.com/Zw2n3b1aMB
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020