Updated as of 11/23/2022 at 9:45 a.m. ET:
The death of Kobe Byrant still continues to affect those who knew and competed against him, especially his most famous teammate, Shaquille O’Neal.
In their eight years together, from 1996 to 2004, the duo won three consecutive NBA championships and made four NBA finals appearances. They were, without a doubt, one of the greatest duos in the history of sports, let alone the NBA.
They also had one of the most infamous feuds in the history of professional sports, which led to the duo eventually breaking up in 2004. But, despite the feuding, the two are forever connected because of their success off the court and the controversy off of it.
So as you would imagine, the death of Kobe affected Shaq very much.
In an interview with People, Shaq was very open and candid about his relationship with the NBA legend and even left Shaq with some regret about how he handled Kobe’s death.
“You put off [getting in touch]. I’ll never get to see Kobe again, in real life, forever. And I just should have called. He should have called. We both should have called. But he’s working, I’m working, so it’s ‘I’ll see you when I see you,” Shaq said, according to People.
This interview came just ahead of O’Neal’s HBO Max four-part docuseries, SHAQ, which chronicles the life on and off the court of the legendary NBA Center. It’s available to stream today.
The director of the series, Robert Alexander, did an interview on The Rich Eisen Show revealing that Bryant’s family wanted footage of the lost legend to be limited. Alexander said during the interview, “Kobe’s family essentially requested that we reduce the amount of Kobe we have in the film.”
He continued, “Out of respect for their wishes we did it, we went ahead and we complied… So I’m very proud of what we ended up with, as far as the amount of Kobe content that we have, that relates to Shaq’s story, but at the end of the day it’s a Shaq film.”
While the relationship between Shaq and Kobe was long, complicated and messy, the two eventually mended their relationship publicly in a 2018 one-on-one sit down where they both sat down and talked about their careers together and the scuffles they had against each other over the years.
During Kobe’s memorial at Staples Center, Shaq said, “As many of you know, Kobe and I had a very complex relationship through the years. But not unlike another leadership duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, whose creative rivalry led to some of the greatest music of all time.”