Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show on Friday. It was the first time that the two had a chance to publicly talk about the death of ex-Lakers guard Kobe Bryant since it happened in late January.
Fallon asked Shaq about the first time he met the future Lakers legend, which got the big man to bring up a memory from his days in Orlando. This story, that was apparently recounted to O'Neal back when Bryant first arrived on the Lakers, starts off with Penny Hardaway blowing off Kobe for an autograph.
The idea of Kobe being blown off by a player who he would eventually be mentioned alongside in the pantheon of NBA legends is enjoyable in its own right, but Shaq then turns it into a message about why he loved and respected his three-peat partner in crime. Simply put: he admired Kobe's constant desire to win.
"What I remember early on is that he wanted the spot, he wanted to be the best," Shaq told Fallon through a virtual interview.
Shaq then uses that moment to springboard into complimenting Fallon, who he affectionately calls "Larry Bird" -- he also refers to the Roots, the hip hop group that became Fallon's Late Night band, as other NBA legends teaming up with him like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.