Days Before Kobe Bryant’s Statue Reveal, Shaquille O’Neal’s Emotional Prediction Resurfaces: “Next Time… Probably Be Yours…”

Published 02/07/2024, 7:30 AM EST

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Shaq’s prediction is coming true, just not in the way he imagined. On February 8, 2024 (a date representing the Black Mamba), Kobe Bryant will become the seventh icon to have a statue at the Crypto.com Arena. The last time the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated its legends this way was in 2017 and 2018 when Shaquille O’Neal and Elgin Baylor’s statues were installed respectively. The iconic Lakers duo, Shaq and Kobe quelled all the feud rumors when a freshly-retired Bryant showed up to O’Neal’s statue unveiling in March 2017. Shaq was the happiest to see his “Bean.” A video of that emotional day surfaced ahead of Bryant’s statue unveiling, hitting us where it hurts most.

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The Black Mamba gave a speech on O’Neal’s big day but the Big Aristotle took the mic last. His best teammate got a special mention in his speech with these words, “The great Kobe Bean Bryant… I just want to say, brother, thank you. We pushed each other, we had our battles, we had our times. But we always had respect for each other, and we were able to win three championships. Definitely couldn’t have done it without you. I appreciate you very much. Next time we’re out here for a statue, it’ll probably be your statue.” 

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As he predicted, Kobe Bryant’s statue will be unveiled on Thursday. O’Neal definitely didn’t imagine it happening without his teammate being physically present when he said it though.

But the 7-footer will be at the ceremony with the rest of the TNT crew covering the event. During TNT Tuesday, they spoke about Kobe’s legacy and Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t contain his emotions.

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Shaq repeated his prophecy knowing it was a long time coming. “We knew he was going to get his jerseys retired, you knew it was going to be a Kobe statue.” And he sounded prouder than getting his own statue, which was monumental for more reasons than one.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant ended feud rumors in 2017

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As Shaq referenced in his 2017 speech, Bryant bragged about having one more ring than Shaq but the big man admitted, “I definitely couldn’t have got the three that I’ve got without him.”

The duo were teammates from 1996 to 2004 during which time they butted heads off court. In his 2017 speech, Bryant told Shaq, “Thank you, I’ve learned so much from you, as a player, and everything that you’ve done for this city, everything you’ve done for this franchise.” Bryant’s presence and speech was a huge topic on the social media front for dispelling rumors about lingering bitterness between them.

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Fast forward to today, Shaq says, “We had a lot of tough inside battles. They kind of leaked on the outside, and people don’t understand this thing of ours was kind of bigger than it was.” He’s happy for the Bryant family on this occasion. What remains to be seen is if O’Neal will take the stage to say, “I told you so.”

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Written by:

Caroline John

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I was 7 when I saw 'Space Jam' but didn't know till the third rewatch the lead actor is actually a living basketball legend. It was while studying journalism that my friend would go on about the Warriors from Golden State. Keen on athletes' personas outside their arenas, it was Stephen Curry's confidence and philanthropy that drew me to follow the news on NBA pros and explore sports media.
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Edited by:

Aakash Nair

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