‘Gone Too Soon’: Shaquille O’Neal Talks About His ‘Enigmatic’ Relationship With Kobe Bryant

Published 01/22/2021, 7:55 AM EST
–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)


2020 was a tough year for people across the globe. It started in the worst way possible with the passing of Kobe Bryant and went downhill since then. Now it has almost been a year since that day, but everyone, including former teammate and close friend Shaquille O’Neal, is having a tough time accepting it.

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During a recent interview, Shaq was asked about his relationship with Kobe, and how his past year was after his passing. He said, “We had a very enigmatic relationship. That’s why I will say we are the most dominant one-two punch ever created. Enigmatic, controversial, having fun and they’ll never be another like us.

“Still kinda hard. Redid my living room, redid my gym. Those pictures are up on the wall. He was already a legend. He was already a guy that will never be forgotten. But he’s definitely gone too soon. I didn’t realize it was a year until you said something.”

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal: One of the greatest duos in NBA history

After the Orlando Magic refused to give him the contract he desired, Shaq signed with the Lakers in 1996. It was the same season the Lakers brought in an 18-year-old Bryant on Draft Night. So this was the start of an exciting partnership.

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Kobe only became a starter in his third season, while Shaq was leading the team. Then in the 1999-2000 season, their partnership bore its first fruits, as the duo led the Lakers to the NBA title. It was the Lakers’ first title since 1988, and their heroics finally broke that barren run.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JUNE 12: Kobe Bryant, Lindsey Hunter and Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate following Game Four of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets on June 12, 2002 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

But they didn’t stop there. Bryant and O’Neal led the Lakers to the NBA title in the following season as well, as they successfully defended their title. The duo was so dominant that no one in the league could match up to them. This unmatched ability helped them win a third successive title, making it a three-peat.

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That achievement officially sealed their status as Lakers legends, and also a legendary duo. Later they had their differences which led to Shaq leaving the team, but despite all of those controversies and fights they had, Kobe and Shaq remain one of the most dominant duos the league has ever seen.

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Aaron Mathew

1527 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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