A tearful Shaquille O’Neal spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about the death of his former teammate, Kobe Bryant.
“I think a lot of times we take stuff for granted,” O’Neal said during a special edition of TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” Turning to his co-hosts with tears running down his face, O’Neal added, “Like I don’t talk to you guys as much as I need to.” He said of Bryant, “The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony, we’re not gonna be able say, ‘Ah, I got five [rings], you got four.’ The fact that we’re not gonna be able to say, ‘If we would’ve stayed together, we could’ve got 10.’ Those are the things you can’t get back.”
Mourning the recent passing of his family members as well, O’Neal said, “With the loss of my father and my sister and my friend, that’s the only thing I wish is I could just say something to them.”
O’Neal appeared from the floor of an empty Staples Center in Los Angeles Tuesday alongside “Inside the NBA” colleagues Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkle, and Dwyane Wade in a special remembering Bryant, who died Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers had been scheduled to play each other there Tuesday night, but the NBA canceled the game Monday in light of Bryant’s death.
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash alongside eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
O’Neal and Bryant played together for eight seasons with the Lakers, winning three NBA championships together.