‘Fear You Taking the Last Shot’: Shaquille O’Neal Recalls the Career-Defining Moment for Kobe Bryant

Published 10/21/2021, 9:01 PM EDT
–Lakers Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant celebrate after defeating the 76ers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Philadelphia Wednesday June 13, 2001. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


After Kobe Bryant made the NBA’s Top 75 players of All-Time list, his former teammate Shaquille O’Neal discussed Kobe’s career-defining moment with TNT. While Kobe made his name for many things that he did on the court, one of the most prominent ones was him being clutch. However, according to his former teammate O’Neal, even he had his bad days. Yet, instead of letting those poor performances bring his confidence down, we all know how Kobe saw every game as a lesson and was always learning from his mistakes.

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While talking about the time he first met Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal described how Jerry West told him about Kobe. But he wasn’t initially paying much attention to Jerry. However, seeing Kobe Bryant on the court for the first time had his attention for sure.

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Shaquille O’Neal on how Kobe Bryant wanted to be great from Day 1

O’Neal said, “And then we got there, how exuberant he was, how he just wanted to be great from day 1. We kinda had to, you know, slow him down a little bit. But, you know my favorite thing about Kobe was doing like you know shooting around in warm-ups. He wouldn’t start on top, but he would just be in the corner working on his moves. Like you know he’d be on the court with no ball, working on his moves.”

Bryant always had the habit of training alone before training with the team. He was famous for his early morning workouts before any of his teammates. And now, we see he did not even need the ball to work on his game.

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Lakers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal sit on the bench with foul trouble against the Timberwolves in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Further, Shaquille said, “And I remember the defining moment for Kobe, we were playing a lot of guys on the court at Utah. Utah was killing us in the playoffs, his last three shots were air balls. He had his head down, and I remember putting my arm around his head and you know what don’t worry about it young fella, one day people are going to fear you taking the last shot. And he just you know became to be one of the greatest players.”

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It was almost like Kobe was always either training or watching tape and learning. Kobe Bryant gave his entire life to basketball and now the league rightly acknowledges that. Shows how much we can learn from the Mamba’s legacy. How failure is an essential part of the path to success. Truly an inspirational legend.

Watch This Story: Sneakers From Adidas and Nike That Kobe Bryant Wore During His NBA Championships Runs

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

366 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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