Kobe Bryant is set to be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Aug. 29.
However, Shaquille O’Neal — one of Bryant’s most important teammates and friends — will not be in attendance.
O’Neal has publicly struggled with the loss of Bryant on a number of occasions but found the strength to deliver a memorable speech during Bryant’s ‘A Celebration of Life’ ceremony. While things have gotten a bit easier over time, the grief of losing his friend still sits at the back of his mind.
Because of this, O’Neal says he will not watch Bryant’s induction ceremony as it will bring his sadness back to a peak, according to Shanna McCarriston of CBS Sports:
“I’m actually not going to watch the Hall of Fame ceremony. On the scale of sadness from 1 to 10, I’m finally at least at a 2 now… That would bring it back to a 7, 8, 9 and I can’t right now. So I don’t want to see old highlights that I’m already watching now.”
It’s completely understandable that O’Neal does not want to spend a night watching old Bryant highlights and celebrating his Hall of Fame induction without him actually in attendance. O’Neal has been grieving publicly for a while now, and perhaps just wants a night to do it privately.
Perhaps by August, O’Neal will change his mind and ask to be a part of the ceremony, at which point he’ll be happily included in the festivities. O’Neal suggested that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, be the speaker at the event.
As it gets closer to the date — and if the ceremony can even happen as planned — fans will know more about how they plan on celebrating Bryant at the induction ceremony. For now, it seems clear that O’Neal will not want to take part, simply because he can’t return to the initial sadness and grief he felt.