‘Never Knew That Kid Was Kobe’: Shaquille O’Neal Reveals How He Made Little Kobe Bryant’s Day

Published 04/09/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
29609.SP.0513.lakers9.WS Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, celebrates his 48–points with Shaquille O’Neal after defeating the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Arco Arena in Sacramento. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were arguably the greatest duo the NBA has ever seen. The legendary duo played eight seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers and won three championships.

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Given how competitive the league was back then, a three-peat would seem like an impossible feat, but Kobe and Shaq just did that. They weren’t the best of friends, with often reports suggesting tensions, but when it came to the business end of the season, the duo always pulled through.

Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O’Neal, left, shares a laugh with Kobe Bryant on the bench during a pre–season game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim Thursday, October 23, 2003. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

While both Kobe and Shaq continued to dominate even after 2004, probably the biggest ‘what if’ is- how many more championships the duo could have had if they had continued to play together through their primes?

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Shaquille O’Neal shares intriguing Kobe Bryant story

While Shaq might have been retired from the game for about 10 years now, he is still one of the most talked about guys in the league. The 7’0″ center has always been welcome to fan interactions ever since his debut in the Orlando Magic and has continued to be a fan favorite with his heartful gestures.

O’Neal recently made an appearance at the Rex Chapman show. There the 4-time NBA champion opened up about how he made a young fan’s day while playing for the Magic. The young fan, who ultimately turned out to be Kobe Bryant.

“Little kid comes the locker room we were in Orlando he wants to see Penny Hardaway it’s Kobe. I never knew this until Kobe told me this story. He wants to see Penny.

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“Penny’s not a bad guy but Penny- I don’t know what’s going on that day- he just, ‘whatever’. And then Kobe was standing there and I actually remember this day. The kid was sitting there and I grabbed him and said, ‘come on little fella. I’ll take a picture with you.'”

He added, “I never knew that kid was Kobe until he told me. We played together, had our fights and battles together, then we did that, Lakers, sit down here and Kobe said, ‘Hey man. You remember when I came to the locker room, and I wanted to see Penny and he blew me off?’ I was like, ‘That was you?’ he said, ‘Yeah, that was me’.”

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While Penny Hardaway and Shaq formed a great duo, it was ultimately Kobe who helped the 7’0″ center to win the championship. Is the pairing of Shaq and Kobe the best ever to grace the game of basketball?

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Aditya Mohapatra

695 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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