Shaquille O’Neal Plays Down Kobe Bryant Beef in Emotional Tribute Ahead of Mamba’s Statue Unveil

Published 02/07/2024, 7:28 AM EST

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On February 8, the Lakers are set to pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant by unveiling his statue. This is a moment laden with significance and emotions for those acquainted with the five-time champion. It represents a huge moment for Mamba fans and all those who were inspired by his legacy. Among them is Shaquille O’Neal. He had a great friendship and partnership while playing alongside Bryant, during their time with the Lakers. Following this, the two even faced a fractured friendship, then again mended their relationship. The two had the most wholesome partnership.

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Reflecting on their tenure together, O’Neal opened up about the deep emotions stirred by the commemoration. “I’m honored to have played with him… This is a no brainer… We knew he was going to get his jerseys retired you knew it was going to be a Kobe statue,” said O’Neal in the latest ‘NBA on TNT.’

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The unveiling of Bryant’s statue will mark the seventh addition to the prestigious lineup of Lakers legends. This esteemed list includes Lakers icons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and O’Neal. During the conversation, O’Neal was asked about the time Bryant showed up for him at his statue unveiling event. While the media and people thought the chances of Bryant showing up at the event were slim, O’Neal and the 5x champion knew they would be there for each other. 

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Kobe Bryant was present for Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling moment 

The former Lakers teammates forged a great bond during their time together on the court from 1996 to 2004. The dynamic duo clinched NBA titles in consecutive years, celebrating championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Despite their success, the big Aristotle was traded to the Miami Heat, where he secured another title in 2006. As per sources, his departure was because of their feud, resulting in a strained relationship that continued for a few years. Yet, with time, their once fractured friendship was gradually mended.

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Back in 2017 when the Los Angeles Lakers honored O’Neal with a statue, Bryant was present. Speaking of the partnership, O’Neal said, “We pushed each other. We had our battles, had our times, but we always had respect for each other and won three championships.” He had shared both triumphs and tribulations with O’Neal and stood by his former teammate during this momentous occasion. Which is your favorite moment of the duo? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by:

Pritha Debroy

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My love for basketball kicked off with the Portland Trail Blazers. The team's spirit, their thrilling plays, and the dedicated fan base had me hooked from the get-go. Now, I'm all about blending my passion for the game with my love for writing.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph

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