Sunday marked the 23rd anniversary of the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal epic Game 7 West Finals alley-oop connection that destroyed the Portland Trail Blazers’ hopes to enter the 2000 NBA Finals.
As sweet as it is to reminisce from that glorious moment, O’Neal, who currently works as an analyst for NBA TV, had a touching realization on the historic finisher he executed with the late great legend.
“I’m happy that happened, but every time I see my young fella [and] he’s not with us anymore, it kind of makes me sad,” O’Neal said. “Shoutout to his mom and dad. We talk all the time, his sisters.
“But of course it was a happy moment, but if I could trade that moment and have him sitting here with us, or be able to text him and say ‘Look, Kobe, can you believe this happened 23 years ago?’ That would be better for me.”
In the blink of an eye, the hammer play between the all-time greats served as the exclamation point for the Los Angeles Lakers to complete their marvelous 14-point fourth-quarter rally against the Blazers in the do-or-die bout. They went on to seal a spot in the championship stage, and the rest was truly history. Starring O’Neal and Bryant, Los Angeles became the residence of the latest basketball dynasty in the modern era following Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls’ 90s reign.
It’s been over three years already since Bryant parted ways, but his golden memories will remain etched in the hearts of everyone forever.