Shaq Reminisces On Friendship With ‘Young Fella’ Kobe Bryant After ESPYS Tribute: ‘We’ll Always Be Attached’

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were one of the most iconic duos in NBA history. In an interview with HollywoodLife, Shaq recalled his first championship win alongside the late Oscar winner following the anniversary on June 20, 2020.

Depending on which generation you were born in, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were the best and most unstoppable on-court NBA duo. In 1996, when Shaq left the Orlando Magic for LA to join a then teenage Kobe Bryant and his Lakers, a league-altering alliance formed that would change the game forever. They went on to win multiple championships together, among other historic moments.

On January 26, 2020, Kobe died in a tragic helicopter crash in California. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “GiGi” Bryant also perished in the crash, along with 7 others. A public memorial was held for Kobe at Staples Center, where he spent his 20-year career with the Lakers, on January 28. Shaq spoke about their unique friendship and memories in a tearful speech at the memorial.

On June 21, at the 2020 ESPYS, Snoop Dogg paid tribute to Kobe in an emotional performance, which the rapper described as “Mamba style.” ESPN also played a touching video of Kobe’s career highlights. Following the annual show, HollywoodLife spoke with Shaq, who said he watched the heartfelt tribute.

“I miss young fella, that’s what I used to call him. But, those memories will always be there, our names will always be attached to one another,” he said in an exclusive interview. “Kobe was stolen from us too early, but those are good memories.”

(Photo credit: Shutterstock) 

Shaq and Kobe spent eight seasons together in Los Angeles from 1996-2004. During that time, the dynamic duo led the Lakers to four NBA Finals appearances and three straight NBA titles from 2000-2002.

When HollywoodLife spoke with Shaq, it also happened to be just a few days after the anniversary of his and Kobe’s first championship win together, which took place on June 20, 2000. After a 12-year title drought for the Lakers, a 27-year-old Shaq and 21-year-old Kobe led the Lakers to a 116-111 comeback nail-biting win against the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Shaq remembered that day like it was yesterday.

“I actually woke up that morning [June 20] and the great Andy Bernstein, who took a couple pictures of us at the parade (following the Lakers 2000 championship), sent me the photos,” he said, adding, “Those are good memories.”

(Photo credit: Shutterstock) 

We also caught up with Shaq at an exciting time. As a Krispy Kreme franchise owner (dubbed the Krispy Kreme King), he was proud to announce the company recently teamed up with Walmart to roll out a new assortment of consumer packaged goodies. Krispy Kreme has packaged its doughnuts into “bite-size” form for Americans nationwide, which will be available in all Walmart locations across the U.S. and Walmart online grocery by July.

“Usually, you have to go to a franchise store, or some gas stations to get Krispy Kreme, if they have them. But, now you can go to Walmart (this July),” Shaq, who is a franchisee in Atlanta, Georgia, said. “It’s a great collaboration and Krispy Kreme always does a great job of reinventing themselves. Of course, they’ll always be known for the OG glazed donuts, but these right here are amazing!”

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