Shaquille O'Neal Admits Kobe Bryant's Death Was 'Very Hard' to Fathom Ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend

The death of Kobe Bryant has been hard for all current and past NBA stars as he made a huge impact while playing. One of the most notable former players taking it the hardest is his former teammate, Shaquille O'Neal. Along with Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson who are all hosts on the TNT show Inside the NBA, O'Neal sat down with Craig Melvin of NBC News/Today and he's still having a hard time coping with the loss of Bryant.

"It was very hard," O'Neal said when he first heard the news. "I've never seen anything like this before. I was at the house the day it happened and my son brought me the thing. You know how the internet is. Stop playing with me, get out of my face with that right now. Just stop and then I got the calls. A guy who helped me become as big as I am, and we will always be forever linked."

O'Neil, Barkley, Smith and Johnson are currently in Chicago getting ready for the NBA All-Star Game. Bryant knows all about the event as he was named to the All-Star team 18 times and named All-Star MVP four times, which ties an NBA record.

"It's a relatable tragedy," Smiths said. "We all jump in a minivan. We all do that with our kids. He was doing it in a helicopter. I looked at it more as not a great player, but a dad was lost and a coach was lost."

"And for me, me and Kobe were not close but I just started crying when I got the news," Barkley added. I felt like I had lost a member of my family."

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Bryant and O'Neil were one of the most dominant duos in NBA history. From 1996-2004 the two helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA titles. O'Neal was named NBA MVP in 2000 and he also won three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards from 2000-2002. After O'Neal left the Lakers in 2004, Bryant helped the team win two more NBA championships in 2009 and 2010.

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