Kobe Bryant memorial: Shaquille O'Neal denies feud, says Lakers three-peat was because they pushed each other
"I'll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianca, and baby Capri all your moves, and I promise I will not teach her my free-throw techniques," O'Neal promised
Despite being involved in quite an infamous feud with Kobe Bryant during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O'Neal said there had never been bad blood between them and paid tribute to the NBA legend at the "Celebration of Life."
O'Neal, who took to the stage to a standing ovation, said, "More than being one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, and believe me, Kobe was truly a gifted and intelligent student of the game -- I remember him saying, 'These guys are playing checkers and I'm out here playing chess.' And I would say, 'I guess so Kobe, I don't know how to play chess.'"
As the rapturous laughter died down, he continued, "But I could tell you what filled Kobe with the most pride was his role as a loving husband to Vanessa, daddy to Gigi and Natalia, Bianca and baby Capri, and a loving son and brother."
"Kobe was a loving friend and a true renaissance man. As many of you know, Kobe and I had a very complex relationship throughout 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."
"Kobe and I pushed each other to play some of the greatest basketball of all-time and I am proud that no other team has accomplished the three-peat since the Kobe and Shaq Lakers did it."
The three-peat, which was when the Lakers won three consecutive NBA Championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002, provoked a roar inside the Staples Center, which has since come to be known as the 'House which Kobe built.'
O'Neal said they never took each other's rivalry, which was scrutinized in the media, very seriously and that they retained a "deep love and respect" for each other.
But in what got the loudest reaction from the crowd the entire night, he shared a hilarious anecdote from their playing days together.
"The day Kobe gained my respect was, the guys were complaining, 'Shaq, Kobe's not passing the ball.' I said I'll talk to him. I said, 'Kobe! There's no 'I' in team. Kobe said, 'I know, but there's a 'me' in that m*****f*****.'"
"Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life is just beginning, but now it's time for us to continue your legacy. You said yourself that everything negative -- pressure, challenges -- is all an opportunity for me to rise."
"So we take that sage advice and now rise from anguish and begin with the healing. Just know that we got your back, little brother. I'll look after things down here. I'll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianca, and baby Capri all your moves, and I promise I will not teach her my free-throw techniques. But for now, I take comfort in the fact that, as we speak, Kobe and Gigi are holding hands, walking to the nearest basketball court. Kobe, you're heaven's MVP."