Shaquille O'Neal Honors Kobe Bryant at Memorial: 'Kobe, You're Heaven's MVP'

Author:
Publish date:

Shaquille O'Neal spoke at Kobe Bryant's memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday.

"Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life is just beginning. It's time for us to continue your legacy," O'Neal said. 

"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 girl Capri all your moves, and I promise I will not teach them 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 will show her some new Mamba moves today. And Gigi will soon master them. Kobe, you're heaven's MVP. I love you, my man. Till we meet again. Rest in peace, Kobe."

Buy SI's Special Kobe Bryant Tribute Issue

The crowd began chanting "Kobe" before a speech from Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony was shown on the screen at Staples Center. 

Earlier in his speech, O'Neal referred to the complex relationship he shared with Bryant, especially when they were teammates with the Lakers from 1996-2004.

"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, and 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 yes, sometimes, like immature kids, we argued, we fought. We bantered or insulted each other with off-handed remarks. But make no mistake, even when the folks thought we were on bad terms, when the cameras were turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each other and say 'Let's go whoop some ass.'"

O'Neal also told an anecdote about the time that Kobe gained his respect.

O'Neal gave his speech after Michael Jordan honored Bryant. Vanessa Bryant, Jimmy Kimmel, Diana Taurasi and Rob Pelinka also spoke at the memorial.