Skip to main content

Shaquille O'Neal says Kobe Bryant had a no-fear attitude from day one


“I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It's possibly the best commercial Michael Jordan ever made. "Failure" was as unexpected as it was insightful. If you haven't seen it yet, what planet are you from? 

All the greats have such experiences, but not at 18 years old in the NBA playoffs. Next to an in-his-prime Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant embraced the possibility of failure. It was that failure that helped him to succeed. Kobe and Shaq may have broken up their basketball marriage because there was only one ball. But it was Shaq who encouraged young Kobe to let it fly. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“When he missed, I was the one who grabbed him and said, 'Hey, everybody's laughing at you now, but one day people are gonna fear you when you get the ball in the last second'”

Shaquille O'Neal, "All Things Covered"

After their careers ended, we've seen that the two had repaired their relationship, acknowledging each other's accomplishments. In that time, both shared more and more stories about playing together for the Lakers. Kobe's tragic death led to Shaq opening even more about his teammate. On the CBS Sports' "All Things Covered" podcast with Patrick Patterson and Bryant McFadden, O'Neal talked about rookie Kobe Bryant and that infamous "Airball game" against Utah.

For those who don't remember, an 18-year old Kobe took four shots in a close game against Utah Jazz in the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals that didn't even touch the rim. The Lakers lost that one and the whole series in five games. O'Neal referred to that game as an example of Kobe's will to be the best ever and his no-fear mindset even at a young age.

"The most memorable moment is when he came in at 17 and wanted to be the best ever. And we had to be like, 'Hey man, chill. Relax, you're gonna get there.' We had to, like, let him go. People always go back to Utah game where he shot those three airballs. He was the only guy that wanted the shot. He wanted to be great; he wanted to be in that moment.”

Shaquille O'Neal, "All Things Covered"

All the game winners and clutch moments in Kobe's career were built on the "Airball game," and a few moments like that. That's why the greatest respect the guy who puts in the work and has the courage to take the shot. It's the only way to be ready to take the biggest ones when the time comes. 

Vanessa Bryant revealed how Kobe Bryant was like everyone else

Vanessa Bryant revealed how Kobe Bryant was a normal person like everyone else: "He wipes his own ass too"

Kobe Bryant was a superstar on the court but never acted like one outside of it. This is what endeared him to the fans

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, forward Kevin Durant and guard James Harden

“This has to go down as one of the most epic failures in the history of this league” — Tim Legler shreds the Brooklyn Nets

Two other teams in the modern NBA came to mind as faliures given the talent they had on the roster.

Kevin Durant blasts Philly fans for their chants towards Ben Simmons

Should the Brooklyn Nets regret trading for Kevin Durant?

The Durant-Irving partnership in Brooklyn could arguably go down as the most disappointing one in NBA history.

Detroit Pistons legend Rick Mahorn and Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller on who he hated facing on the bad boy Pistons — “He ​​had a crazy look in his eye all the time”

There’s a reason why Miller's most feared Pistons player was dubbed as the “Baddest Bad Boy of them all.”

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and guard Manu Ginobili

"I lost a lot of sleep because of him" — Chauncey Billups reveals who deserved to win the 2005 NBA Finals MVP

Tim Duncan won the 2005 NBA Finals MVP. But Chauncey Billups, as well as some fans, believed the trophy belonged to someone else.

Michael Jordan

Beer drones — the best feature on Michael Jordan's exclusive golf course

Do you want to be a member of the exclusive The Grove XXIII club? Michael Jordan has to invite you first.


Miles Bridges' wife exposes him for domestic violence

The NBA community needs to to better. ”I won’t be silent to protect others anymore because I value myself and my kids more than anyones ‘image’”