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Shaq Reveals The Truth About His Relationship With Kobe Bryant

(via USATODAY.com)

(via USATODAY.com)

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal displayed unprecedented dominance during their time as teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. It was only after making history by three-peating from 1999-2002 that they split, citing a major rift in their relationship as the major reason why.

In the years that followed, Shaq and Kobe were pitted as rivals and former teammates who had grown to hate each other.

And while O'Neal himself will tell you that he and Kobe were not the best of friends, he made sure to set the record straight on the nature of their relationship before Bryant's tragic death in January of this year.

(via ESPN)

“Were we best friends? No,” O’Neal said.

“Did we respect the hell out of each other? 1,000%. Do I wish we could’ve talked every day and hung out every day. Yes.”

Shaq and Kobe seemed to harbor no ill-feelings towards each other and, despite their dramatic split, there remained profound respect for each other on both sides.

And, as Shaq explained, it was enough to make them successful.

“There’s a myth that you have to be best friends to win championships,” he said. “We only have to have one thing, and that’s respect. If he goes to the hole with four people coming, he’s dropping it off to me. When I get double or triple teamed, I look for him first. He knows I need him. I’m damn sure he knows he needs me. I was just hurt I would never be able to tell him anything ever again.”

It's good that the two were able to let go of the past, and even better that they both moved on. But one has to wonder what it would have looked like had they stayed together throughout their careers.

We'll have to just keep that one in our dreams...