It's no secret that former LA Lakers Shaquille O'Neal and the late Kobe Bryant were one of the most dynamic duos the NBA has ever seen on the court. The two were teammates from 1996-2004, winning three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002 under the coaching of Phil Jackson.
It's also no secret the two publicly feuded for years, allegedly beginning when O'Neal—jealous of Bryant's jersey sales—accused Bryant of playing selfish ball.
The two continued to take jabs at each other over the course of their time together in LA...and a few years after, with O'Neal mocking Bryant's ball handling skills and Kobe commenting on O'Neal's physical fitness.
In 2004, the Lakers traded O'Neal to the Miami Heat, where he led the team to a championship victory. Bryant eventually won two more with LA.
Over the years, the feud between the two faded and their relationship improved. The two even publicly praised each other's successes.
Though they were on good terms before Bryant's death in January of 2020, O'Neal still has regrets.
He told People:
"You put off [getting in touch]."
"I'll never get to see Kobe again, in real life, forever."
"And I just should have called. He should have called. We both should have called."
"But he's working, I'm working, so it's 'I'll see you when I see you.'"
"I [thought], 'We're goth going to get old. We'll both be at the 50-year Lakers anniversary.'"
"Other things shouldn't have bee more important [than getting in touch], but little things [got in the way]."
Fans on Twitter shared their sentiments.
— TRAPMAMBA (@1NJAYCDB) November 21, 2022
Damn mann it's sad to kno the great @SHAQ still having an hard time grieving over the lost of his former teammate & very close dear friend in K. Bryant shidd I think all real fans are still feelin' the same way as him tho.😢 #LongLiveBlackMamba 🐍 #824 #LakeShow #NBA
— B I G G D U B B 👑 (@jujukjuke) November 22, 2022
— nigy35 (@gehaktbal35) November 21, 2022
I said the same when I lost a friend in 2011… we don’t appreciate enough what is given to us when it comes to people we love until we lost them.
— Lonestar (@lone_N_little) November 22, 2022
That’s real life perspective from larger than life people.
— Matt Akins (@snikastyle) November 22, 2022
Life is so fragile. Missed you my goat!
— Austin Reaves (@HillBillyKobe24) November 22, 2022
‘Forever is a long time’ hit hard.
— theAlcapown (@theAlcapown) November 22, 2022
He finished with advice for others with strained relationships:
"Call your mom. Call your brother. Call the homeboy you used to party with in college."
"Forever is a long time."
Got me going through my contacts......
— JC3 (@chapmanthethird) November 21, 2022
The most valuable thing we have in this life is time.respect it and never take it forgranted.never miss the moment because all we have is the moment.when you are angry at your family.forgive them and cherish the moment.
— Isaac Simmons (@IsaacSi87224633) November 21, 2022
Real advice 🙏
— Vault (@vaultsportshq) November 21, 2022
“Call your loved ones” call anyone that you can reminisce with
— Tres Tatum (@TatumTop5) November 22, 2022
We take advantage of believing people will always be around & that we’ll always have time to talk to them eventually.
Hit up your loved ones. See your loved ones. Let them know they’re loved.
— jt (@SaucySinghh) November 22, 2022
I feel this so deeply. Take care of your loved ones and always tell them how much you love and care about them. Forever is a long time.
— Jerm (@GramMasterJ) November 22, 2022
SHAQ - a four-part HBO docuseries that comes out today, chronicles O'Neal's life, giving fans the opportunity to "meet the man behind the legend."
Though O'Neal will undoubtedly open up about Bryant, Bryant's family has requested that SHAQ limit footage of Bryant.