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Shaquille O'Neal Once Brilliantly Imitated How Kobe Bryant Seriously Practiced Without The Ball In His Rookie Year

Shaquille O'Neal Once Brilliantly Imitated How Kobe Bryant Seriously Practiced Without The Ball In His Rookie Year

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant didn't part ways on the best of terms when Shaq left the Lakers, but they reconciled later in their lives. And before things went sour between the two, they had quite a relationship as well, with both players hungry to win championships and eager to prove themselves. 

Kobe came into the league at 18, a youngster looking to surpass his idol, Michael Jordan. Tracy McGrady, who came up alongside him, recently spoke about what he was like off the court at that age. However, no one knew better than Shaq what the Mamba was like on the court and in practice as a rookie. 

Talking about it on 'Inside The NBA' in 2020, Shaquille O'Neal reminisced about what Kobe was like in his early days. Since he wasn't seeing many minutes as a rookie, Kobe would do shadow practice, dribbling and putting up shots without a ball. O'Neal did quite the impersonation as well, bringing laughs to the entire crew. 

"This was his rookie year. He wasn't getting a lot of playing time, so... You know, shootaround is the time where other guys play and you supposed to be focused. So Kenny, you be Dell Harris and just go over plays..." *imitates Kobe shadow dribbling and putting up shots*

The thought of Kobe not getting playing time for the Lakers sounds funny in hindsight, but that's the way things used to be in the league. More often than not, rookies had to spend their first season coming off the bench rather than starting. 

The story also speaks to Mamba's mentality that he was locked in on his own game even without having the ball in his hand. Kobe Bryant was all about training as hard as possible to get as good as he could, and it's safe to say that his efforts paid off in a major way for himself as well as the Lakers.