Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will go down in history as one of the best duos ever. The things this pair did with the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been unmatched yet, not even by the Miami Heat of the Big 3 or the ‘Hamptons Five’ Golden State Warriors. Shaq and Kobe took the Lakers to a three-peat at the beginning of the 2000s, something that no other team has been able to do in the league.

Although their association ended amid reports suggesting they didn’t like each other, Shaq has made it clear that he never had a bad relationship with Bryant. In fact, there was mutual respect between them and that’s what made them so successful together. Shaq reflected on their relationship during a podcast with NFL star Russell Wilson, explaining that their focus was different but they always had respect for one another.

“I was upset because we never really talked a lot. Probably should have. I was always the type to go and do my job and then come home. I got family, and I know you got a family so I won’t bother you.

“Everyone thought we had a bad relationship. No, we had a respectable relationship. Respectable enough to win three in a row. Did we agree on stuff all the time? No. But sometimes you need to focus on either the relationship or the task. He was focused on the task. But the respect was always there.”

They played eight seasons together before Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004. He would win one more title with the Heat, finishing his career with 4. As for Kobe, he stayed with the Lakers, winning two more titles and increasing his legend as one of the greatest Laker of all time.

One wonders what would have happened if they stayed together. Fortunately, they fixed their relationship and had a good one until Kobe was killed in a fatal helicopter crash last January 26.