No 'I' in 'team': Shaq shares how Kobe gained his respect at memorial
MANILA, Philippines – The Kobe and Gigi Bryant memorial had its fair share of hilarious and tear-jerking moments.
There was Michael Jordan joking about being in another crying meme, Jordan assisting Vanessa Bryant off the stage, and of course, Bryant’s widow herself giving an extremely personal and touching account of her late husband and daughter.
But a Kobe memorial would not be complete without some words from his greatest teammate-slash-rival Shaquille O’Neal, who seems to never run out of good stories about their relationship.
In front of a packed star-studded crowd inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the legendary big man notably recounted the day the Mamba gained his respect.
"The day Kobe gained my respect was, the guys were complaining, [they] said, 'Shaq, Kobe’s not passing the ball.' I said, 'I’ll talk to him.' I said, 'Kobe, there’s no 'I' in 'team'.'"
"He said: 'I know, but there's an 'M-E' in that motherf*cker,'" O’Neal said amid laughter and loud cheers from the crowd.
"So I went back and told Rick [Fox] and 'Big Shot' Bob [Horry], and I said, 'Just get the rebound, he’s not passing it.'"
On a more serious note, O’Neal shared how their rivalry throughout the years brought out the best in both of their games. He and Bryant notably feuded in the early 2000s to the point where O’Neal was traded away to the Miami Heat in 2005.
"But not unlike another leadership duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, whose creative rivalry led to some of the greatest music of all time, Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time," O’Neal said.
"I am proud that no other team has accomplished what the three-peat Lakers have done since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers did it."
"And sometimes like immature kids, we argued, we fought, we bantered, we assaulted each other with offhand remarks on the field. Make no mistake, even when folks thought we were on bad terms, when the cameras are turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each other and say let’s go whoop some ass."
And whoop ass, they did, as the dynamic duo carved out Hall of Fame-worthy careers for each other with a combined 9 NBA championships to show for it.
Although O’Neal is now left alone in what was supposed to be the second half of their lives, the gentle giant took solace in the fact that his good friend can still look after his niece Gigi in the afterlife.
"For now, I take comfort in the fact as we speak, Kobe and Gigi are holding hands, walking to the nearest basketball court," O’Neal said. "Kobe will show his new Mamba moves today and Gigi will soon master them. Kobe, you’re heaven’s MVP. I love you, my man," he said.
O'Neal added: "Till we meet again. Rest in peace, Kobe." – Rappler.com