Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant had a complicated relationship. One of the NBA's most dominant duos also didn't always see eye to eye during their playing days.
Reflecting on Bryant's death in an interview with People magazine, O'Neal said he wished he reached out more to his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate before his fatal helicopter crash in January 2020.
"You put off [getting in touch]," O'Neal said. "I'll never get to see Kobe again, in real life, forever. And I just should have called. He should have called. We both should have called. But he's working, I'm working, so it's 'I'll see you when I see you.'"
After winning three straight championships together, Shaq and Kobe feuded before the Lakers traded the star center to the Miami Heat in 2004.
Despite their "very complex relationship," O'Neal said he and Bryant still loved and respected each other. However, he wishes they had more time to reconcile and grow closer as they aged.
"[I thought], 'We're both going to get old. We'll both be at the 50-year Lakers anniversary,'" O'Neal said. "Other things shouldn't have been more important [than getting in touch], but little things [got in the way]."
He advised people to learn from his situation before it's too late.
"Call your mom. Call your brother. Call the homeboy you used to party with in college. Forever is a long time."