Shaq: ‘Never could have imagined’ anything like Kobe’s death

Shaquille O’Neal tearfully said Tuesday he never could have imagined anything like Kobe Bryant’s death, remembering his former teammate as a great player whose kids called him “Uncle Shaq.”

“The fact that we lost probably the world’s greatest Laker, the world’s greatest basketball player is just — listen, people are going to say take your time and get better, but this is going to be hard for me,” O’Neal said. “I already don’t sleep anyway, but I’ll figure it out.”

O’Neal’s comments came at the start of TNT’s pregame show, as he sat on the court at Staples Center along with the rest of the network’s studio team. TNT was supposed to televise a doubleheader, but the NBA cancelled the Lakers-Clippers game that was scheduled to be the nightcap because the Lakers organization is still too devastated after the death of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash Sunday.

O’Neal was working out with family members when he got the news and hoped it wasn’t true.

“I never could have imagined nothing like this,” he said. “I was thinking the other day I’ve never seen anything like this. All the basketball idols that I grew up (watching), I see them. They’re old.”

O’Neal and Bryant teamed to help the Lakers win three straight championships from 2000-02, but they occasionally feuded and O’Neal was traded to Miami in 2004. He would win another title there, while Bryant would win two more with the Lakers.

They eventually patched up their relationship and O’Neal said they texted frequently, though he said he hadn’t actually seen Bryant since the final day of his career in 2016. O’Neal said he told Bryant to score 50 points and Bryant instead scored 60.

“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, `Hi, I’ve got five (rings), you’ve got four,’ the fact that we’re not going to say if we’d stayed together we could have got 10, those are the things you can’t get back,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal’s comments were his first that were televised since Bryant’s death. He had previously only posted on social media and spoken on a podcast.

He has been recovering from the death of his sister, and said he hadn’t felt pain like Bryant’s death in some time. He said he always said the same things to Bryant’s children.

“Hi, my name is Uncle Shaq,” he said. “I don’t know if they know me as a basketball player. Doesn’t matter. Just ‘Hi, I’m Uncle Shaq.’ Try to make them laugh and he would do the same thing.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Company walks away from massive oilsands project

VANCOUVER — Teck Resources Ltd. has withdrawn its application for a massive… Continue reading

Fort Macleod, Alta., to get special advance screening of new ‘Ghostbusters’ film

There will be something strange in the neighbourhood of Fort Macleod, Alta.,… Continue reading

Hundreds turn up at Coldest Night of Year walk in Red Deer

It wasn’t the coldest night of the year, which probably helped the… Continue reading

Police in Saskatoon shoot two dogs that attacked man, then advanced on officers

SASKATOON — Police in Saskatoon say officers had to open fire at… Continue reading

Alberta and two First Nations make deal for proposed oilsands mine

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has struck deals with two northern Alberta… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: The 8 best quality online stores! Shop the ultimate sales

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake Wranglers comeback to nab OT win in Game 2 over Red Deer Vipers

The Sylvan Lake Wranglers have a knack for the dramatics early in… Continue reading

Wranglers win wild Game 1 double OT thriller over Red Deer Vipers

The best-of-seven series continues Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Kings and Queens basketball triumph over Ambrose, keep playoff hopes alive

Guard Sandra Garica-Bernal sets new Queens all-time steals mark

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

View of a longtime economist: Slower growth but no recession

WASHINGTON — In this high-profile election year, the U.S. economy boasts an… Continue reading

Amy, chasing: Klobuchar, already beating odds, faces uphill climb

WASHINGTON — It’s been a running gag ever since she launched her… Continue reading

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s attorney general hopes an inquiry into money laundering… Continue reading

Most Read