Shaquille O'Neal shared one fond memory of Kobe Bryant that was definitely not safe for work. The NBA star recalled a conversation with some masterful use of the F-word. The crowd laughed raucously at O'Neal's story.
O'Neal was one of many celebrities and former teammates to speak about Bryant on Monday at his "Celebration of Life Memorial." He shared his grief for Bryant's death, but also his enduring love for the man. One story in particular seemed to sum up Bryant's ethos as a player.
"The day Kobe gained my respect was... The guys were complaining, saying 'Shaq, Kobe's not passing the ball!'" O'Neal recalled. "I said 'I'll talk to him.'"
“I said ‘Kobe there’s no I in team” and he said ‘I know but there’s a M-E in that mothafucka’” 😂😂 on live television. I love Shaq pic.twitter.com/IhL4cxNtjZ— Young Butter (@DensFinest610) February 24, 2020
"I said 'Kobe, there's no I in team.' Kobe said 'I know, but there's an M-E in that motherf—er.'"
The audio on the broadcast was cut for a long moment to make sure O'Neal's language was censored, but his meaning could not have been more clear. The camera cut to prominent figures in sports laughing in the audience as well, proving that others thought the quote reflected Bryant well.
Fans online were loving it as well, saying it was a much-needed moment of levity in the memorial. While Bryant's sudden passing left friends, family and fans grieving, they were determined to remember the good times as well.
"Shaq is the freaking BEST at bringing levity to a situation!" one fan tweeted.
"Gotta love Shaq," wrote another with crying-laughing emojis.
"That was priceless!! I loved it!! I needed to laugh!" added a third.
The huge memorial service was full of moments like this, ranging from sentimental and mournful to light and loving. Other speakers included NBA legend Michael Jordan, University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and many others. The most heartbreaking speech may have been the one by Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant.
"God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to him together," Vanessa said of her husband and daughter, 13-year-old Gianna. "Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. We're still the best team. We love and miss you, Boo Boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always. Mommy."
Bryant and Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26 while flying to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy for Gianna's team's tournament. They have been honored at other public events over the last month, but Monday's memorial was one of the biggest yet.