Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal had a rocky relationship as teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. Although they were arguably one of the greatest duos in NBA history, the two had their fair share of struggles as a result of having completely different personalities with different approaches to the game of basketball.
Despite their very public feud during their time playing alongside each other, Bryant and O’Neal won three consecutive NBA titles and are now considered Lakers legends.
On Friday, Shaq will be the first of the two former Lakers superstars to have a statue outside of the Staples Center. Bryant couldn’t be happier for his former teammate saying the following about the statue, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“I’m excited for him,” Bryant said. “Obviously had an amazing career here. He’s taking his rightful place among some of the greatest Lakers of all-time.… This franchise is one of the rare franchises where you’re remembered for the championships you win. To be known as a Laker champion as well as one of the greatest who have ever played. That’s what warrants you a statue in this organization.”
Bryant, who has been retired for almost a year now, will be joined by many of Shaq’s former Lakers teammates on Friday. Derek Fisher, Gary Payton, Rick Fox, Brian Cook, and Devean George will be in attendance along with Phil Jackson, Jerry West, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Unfortunately, Magic Johnson, current Lakers president of basketball operations, will miss the event as he’ll be watching the UCLA Bruins take on the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen. Johnson will be evaluating top draft prospects Lonzo Ball and Malik Monk among other on Friday.
Following the unveiling of Shaq’s statue, the Lakers will host the Minnesota Timberwolves in an attempt to snap a six-game losing streak.