Skip to main content

“He was crying, bro” — Chauncey Billups revealed why Kobe Bryant was crying after making it to the 2009 NBA Finals

Kobe Bryant was so determined to win a championship without Shaquille O'Neal to the point that his emotions oftentimes consumed him.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

When Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant went their separate ways, it was clear that the competition between the two was about who would win more championships independent from each other. O'Neal drew first blood by winning a ring with the Miami Heat in 2006, so at that time, the pressure only grew on Kobe to prove that he too could win without The Diesel.

No one pressured Bryant more than he did himself, to the point that it overwhelmed him so much that he was caught in tears when he walked off the court after making it to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Chauncey Billups caught Kobe Bryant crying

According to former NBA player Chauncey Billups, who faced Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 Western Conference Finals, the Black Mamba was in tears after the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets because he wanted to win so badly. Another trip to the NBA Finals without O'Neal meant so much to Bryant, which is why his emotions sometimes got the best of him.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"He was so determined to win the championship without Shaq. It was Game 6, the game got away, checked the starters out. So they checking us out, I go up to him and tell him, 'Good luck, good job.' He was crying, bro. Crying, like tears crying. He was so happy to be going to the Finals," Billups said in his latest appearance on the All the Smoke podcast.

Bryant's journey without O'Neal wasn't easy. He had to go through multiple losing seasons to return to the mountaintop again. He won the MVP in 2008 but played his best years in 2009 and 2010 — when he led the Lakers to back-to-back championships without Shaq. Both titles not only solidified Kobe's place in the list of the NBA's all-time greats but also proved that he was a certified champion with or without Shaq.

Shaq admits Kobe was better

Despite their ugly and messy breakup, Kobe and Shaq's friendship was eventually restored as they moved forward with their careers. The competition on who would win more championships was on their minds, but when O'Neal witnessed Bryant claim his 5th title, he admitted that Kobe won the breakup. The big man even claimed that Bryant was the greatest player ever to wear the purple and gold.

"One championship less than what Mike has, but to be the greatest Laker ever, I think that's an amazing accomplishment," O'Neal said. "They got Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], they got Wilt [Chamberlain], they got Magic [Johnson], so I think him going out as the greatest Laker ever, going out the way he did, I think it's remarkable," O'Neal added.

The greatest one-two punch in basketball history ran its course, but in the end, Bryant turned out to be the more accomplished basketball player. He was so determined to top O'Neal that it consumed him so much and motivated him not just to be the greatest Laker of all time but also a legendary icon. 

Isiah Thomas & Karl Malone

Isiah Thomas opens up about a surprising phone call he received from Karl Malone - "He almost started crying on the phone"

Isiah Thomas shares what happened when he got a surprising call from Karl Malone, who wanted to apologize for an incident that happened 30 years ago between the two legends

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson

"Then what happens? They’re gonna consider him a bust" — Vince Carter gave Zion Williamson helpful advice

Like Zion, Carter was also branded as primarily a dunker when he entered the league and everybody expected him to throw it down all the time.

Stone Cold Steve Austin celebrates with beer during WrestleMania in 2022 and LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009

"I've forgotten so many things but I remember that vividly" — Steve Austin on LeBron James taking photos of him via flip phone

Stone Cold didn't need to check his social media or the internet as he vividly remembers the King's support.

Michael Jordan in 2022 at the NBA 75th Anniversary Team induction ceremony

“You're a loser! You've always been a loser!” - how Michael Jordan trash-talked his teammate into retirement

When MJ said he doesn't care, he really meant it - even if his teammate once retired because of his cruel trash talk.

Kerry Kittles in 2021 at a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame press conference.

"Mostly they’re talking about scoring and scoring" — Kerry Kittles on today's NBA

Kerry Kittles doesn't like the lack of defense in today's game but admittedly would've loved to play in this era.

Former Kansas Jayhawks player Scot Pollard

“It’s a common expression here” - Scot Pollard revealed the code the Sacramento Kings used for too much dribbling

As it turned out, every single player on "The Greatest Show on the Court" Kings was about team basketball.