Skip to main content

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL REMEMBERS THE FIRST TIME he met Kobe Bryant and what made him special from all the others

Shaq & Kobe (1)

Shaquille O'Neal and the late great Kobe Bryant are arguably one of the most dominant duos in NBA history. Even though they had their differences, they established a dynasty that will never be forgotten during their time together with the Los Angeles Lakers. When Shaq left Orlando Magic to play for the Lakers in 1996, nobody could ever imagine he would partner up with a kid drafted straight out of high school. Kobe was 18 at the time, and one of the rare people that saw a lot of potential in him was none other than Jerry West, who was the architect of that championship squad. 

In a recent interview on The Jimmy Fallon show, Shaq talked about Kobe and his impact on him and the game of basketball. He also remembered the first time he met Kobe, and surprisingly, it was even before they both started playing for the Lakers. Shaq was still a member of the Magic at the time, and it was Kobe who came with his parents to see Penny Hardaway but ended up speaking with Shaq, who completely forgot about meeting him in the first place.

"Actually, Kobe reminded me of the story. I was in Orlando, and him and his family came in the locker room, and he asked Penny for an autograph, and I guess Penny kinda blew him off or whatever, I'm not sure, this is what Kobe was telling me. And then he said he came up to me and I was really nice to him, and I had never knew that until one day he told me (during) his rookie year. He was like, 'do you remember me?' I was like 'nah.' He was like, 'I came in the locker room,' and I was like, 'oh yeah, that was you.'

Shaquille O'Neal, via The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

When Kobe joined the Lakers, it was immediately evident to Shaq, he is a special kid, working harder than everyone he ever met. Shaq is convinced him, and Kobe alone would have won one or two championships based on their talent, but Shaq also paid his respect for the guys who weren't so exposed but also made their contributions to those championships.

"What I realized I loved about him early on was that he wanted the spot. He wanted to be the best. Kobe and myself, we probably could have gotten one or two on our own, but if it wasn't for Brian Shaw, Rick Fox, Big Shot Bob, the guys that I call 'The Others,' I definitely wouldn't have four... 

Shaquille O'Neal, via The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Their success, later on, became somewhat of a burden for the team because both of their egos clashed, which caused a lot of internal frictions. Kobe always thought Shaq wasn't dedicated enough, which eventually meant the Lakers had to choose between the two, and they traded Shaq to the Miami Heat. After some years, the two buried their hatchets and squashed all the bad blood between them. Shaq said the respect between them two was always there, but egos were the biggest problem in that relationship. 

What I want people to get out of it is that no matter what you may hear or what you see, it was all in the interest of winning. And if I had it to do all over again I'd do it the same way. I always respected the kid, and he always respected me."

Shaquille O'Neal, via The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

There was always a notion Shaq and Kobe could have won more if they had stayed together for a few more years. Both of them even said that they probably had the chance to win one or even two more championships, but different things regarding their relationships happened in a way they did. Things got complicated, and they went their separates but almost equally successful ways. 

Gilbert Arenas reveals everybody hated Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

Gilbert Arenas spills cold truth on Kobe Bryant: "Everybody hated the Mamba Mentality"

Gilbert Arenas dished out some truth bombs about Kobe Bryant's dreaded mantra

Magic Johnson wants the Lakers to give Russell Westbrook another chance

Magic Johnson advises the Los Angeles Lakers to keep Russell Westbrook: “Take him out, take him to dinner”

Magic Johnson said that keeping Russell Westbrook for another year is better than trading him in exchange for long-lasting bad contracts.

Kevin Garnett mocks Lakers’ coaching search: They not serious about trying to better the situation

Kevin Garnett mocks Lakers’ coaching search: They not serious about trying to better the situation

Garnett couldn't help but react sarcastically when the list of names being considered for the L.A. Lakers head coach position was revealed.

Steve Kerr explains how Andrew Wiggins filled in the void left by four players

Steve Kerr explains how Andrew Wiggins filled in the void left by four players

Steve Kerr heaped praise for Andrew Wiggins defensive stance against Luka Doncic.

George Gervin doesn't think MJ is GOAT: 'He couldn't score like Ice

George Gervin doesn't think Michael Jordan is GOAT: 'He couldn't score like Ice'

Many are convinced that Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time, but George Gervin argued that he was a far better scorer

Wiggins has been phenomenal on defense throughout this series, but he turned the tables in Game 3 with a stellar offensive outing

Andrew Wiggins's vicious dunk on Luka Doncic brings Golden State Warriors close to the NBA Finals: "I just saw rim”

Wiggins has been phenomenal on defense throughout this series, but he turned the tables in Game 3 with a stellar offensive outing

Doc Rivers nearly left the Clippers for the Lakers

Doc Rivers once nearly left the Los Angeles Clippers for the Los Angeles Lakers

If Doc Rivers did end up moving to the Lakers, would they have beaten their opponents the way they did in 2020? No one knows, but it's fair to say Frank Vogel was the better coach in the Bubble.

Difference between Jimmy Butler and Ja Morant

Difference between Jimmy Butler and Ja Morant -- one soldiers on while the other whines about dirty plays

Jimmy Butler and Ja Morant received the same borderline dirty fouls that resulted in injuries. But their reactions were different from one another.