A very emotional Shaquille O'Neal said goodbye to his former teammate Kobe Bryant on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday on the American television channel TNT, who died on Sunday in a helicopter accident.

"It has been a long time since I felt such pain," said 47-year-old O'Neal with tears in his eyes during a special broadcast from TNT, the channel for which the former top basketball player has been working as an analyst for years.

The tribute took place on the pitch of the STAPLES Center, home to Los Angeles Lakers. O'Neal was at that club between 1996 and 2004 with Bryant one of the best duos in the history of the NBA. They led the Lakers in 2000, 2001 and 2002 to the title in the North American basketball competition.

"Our names will therefore always be connected to each other," said O'Neal, who on Sunday did not want to believe that Bryant had died. "I have never experienced this. It is very difficult for me that we have lost the greatest Laker of all time. And I have lost my little brother; that will definitely change me."

“I haven't felt a pain that sharp in a while .. it definitely changes me.” '@SHAQ on the loss of his brother, Kobe.

Avatar AuthorNBAonTNTMoment of places00: 23 - 29 January 2020

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"There was always respect between us"

It is no secret that O'Neal and Bryant, as two very different personalities, regularly argued with the Lakers. That was an important reason for O'Neal's departure for Miami Heat in 2004, ending the hegemony of the Lakers in the NBA.

"People often ask about our relationship and I always tell them that we were two stubborn people who wanted to do it in a certain way and said certain things to each other," O'Neal said Tuesday.

"But there was always respect. And within the lines it was always just about winning. I really believe we were the most dominant duo ever. I still can't believe that Kobe died."

Bryant, who remained with the Lakers throughout his career, died on Sunday at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash on a hill near Los Angeles. His thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others did not survive the accident either.

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