(via CNet)

It wasn’t exactly a surprise to see Kobe’s face on the cover of NBA 2k21’s “legendary edition,” but it didn’t make the situation any less heartwarming for the community. The moment is special because it’s a way for the basketball world to remember, celebrate, and immortalize the life and career of Kobe Bean Bryant.

Shaquille O’Neal, a former teammate of Kobe, recently shared his reaction on Twitter.

Kobe and Shaq played together for eight seasons, winning three NBA titles in four Finals appearances. By all accounts, their partnership is considered the greatest in league history and, at the time, they were pretty much unstoppable.

Unfortunately, something in their relationship cracked towards the end, causing a rift between them that ultimately pushed Shaq out of town.

Despite this rivalry, the two grew to love and respect each other, especially once their basketball careers were over.

Upon Kobe’s death in January, Shaq was among those who revered the kind of person Kobe was on and off the court — and it’s clear they were friends more than they were enemies. Seeing him grace the cover of 2k must’ve been a surreal yet somber moment for O’Neal, as he was reminded yet again that his buddy and his former teammate was no longer on the earth.

It really is sad, but perhaps we should treat this cover the way Kobe would’ve wanted us to: as a way to celebrate his life and storied career.