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Shaquille O’Neal distraught at being reminded of his ‘beef’ with Kobe Bryant


Shaquille O’Neal was in tears when he paid tribute to Kobe Bryant (Getty/TNT)

Shaquille O’Neal has played down the severity of his ‘beef’ with Kobe Bryant and says he has ‘lost a little brother’ following the death of his former LA Lakers teammate.

Bryant and O’Neal were teammates at the Lakers for eight seasons and won three consecutive NBA titles together from 2000 to 2002.

But a feud between the pair resulted in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, while it was suggested that Bryant would have left the Lakers as a free agent if O’Neal had stayed.

However, in a tearful interview with TNT on Tuesday evening, O’Neal insists it was a ‘big brother, little brother’ relationship between himself and Bryant.

‘I’ve been looking at the internet, and people like to talk about the relationship. I’m here to set it straight,’ O’Neal told TNT.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal hold up the NBA Championship and MVP trophies after game four of the NBA Finals in 2002 (AFP via Getty Images)

‘It was a big brother relationship, little brother. I have a real brother in real life, and we argue all the time.

‘I have an older brother in Charles Barkley, we argue all the time. But the respect was there.

‘And if you don’t believe that the respect was there, after I won my first championship [in 2000], who was the first guy to jump in my arms? When the guy twisted his ankle in the NBA Finals [in 2000] and couldn’t walk, who was the guy that carried him down the hall?

‘So, from now on, I don’t want to hear about the beef that ya’ll thought we had.

‘This man [Jerry West, LA Lakers legend] knows our true relationship. We practiced, we played together. When we stepped inside the lines, we wanted to win. We both wanted to win.’

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant won the NBA All-Star game in 2009 (Getty Images)

O’Neal was clearly distraught when he spoke about Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.

‘I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,’ said O’Neal.

‘Forty-seven years old. I lost two grandmothers, lost Sarge [O’Neal’s stepfather Sgt. Phillip Harrison], lost my sister, but now I’ve lost a little brother.

‘Our names will be attached together for what we did.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant won three consecutive NBA titles together with the Lakers (Getty)
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were both killed in the crash (Getty)

‘The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony.

‘We’re not going to be able to say, ‘Ha, I got five [championships], you got four.’ The fact that we’re not going to be able to say, ‘If we would have stayed together, we would have got 10 [championships].’

‘Those [are] the things that you can’t get back.

‘And with the loss of my father, my sister, my grandmother, that’s the only thing I wish I could just say something to him again.’





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