Shaquille O'Neal is opening up about the complicated, yet loving relationship he had with "brother" Kobe Bryant before the NBA icon was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other victims. Just one day after the tragedy, Bryant's fellow Los Angeles Lakers alum opened up about their friendship on The Big Podcast with Shaq.
"I wish we would have communicated more," O'Neal said of his regret in their lengthy relationship. "That's just how we are. Of course, when we saw each other it was love and respect and you know looking out for the kids. His daughter Gigi was a fabulous player. I just wish I could have talked to him before, that's it. I just wish he was here. I wish I could say something to him."
Calling their relationship one of "brothers," O'Neal admitted that the ups and downs of his relationship with Bryant as they played for the Lakers together all evaporated as they embraced their roles as fathers.
"When I saw Kobe and his daughters — I love them," O'Neal said. "He saw my kids. He loved them. If you look at my kid's Instagram, he talked to Shareef yesterday morning. So, all of that stuff that was documented between us was never a dislike. I love Kobe Bryant."
"We are still the best duo ever created," O'Neal added of Bryant. "That's never going to change. For me, this is going to hurt a long time. I really lost a brother yesterday."
After news broke Sunday that Bryant and his teenage daughter were killed in the helicopter crash on their way to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, O'Neal took to Instagram with pain-filled message.
"There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie," he wrote. "I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!"
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