The NBA great appeared on the “Sports Like A Boss” podcast and told co-hosts Holly McPeak and Anne Marie Anderson that thinking of Bryant makes him go into “wish mode.”
“Listen, we respected each other. We’re friends. We’re not call-everyday-friends, but I wish that I would’ve talked to him more,” O’Neil said, sounding somber.
“I wish I could’ve said ‘Hey, how you doing,’ I wish I could’ve said, ‘Hey, you know the Hall of Fame thing is coming up. You know you gonna be on that list,’” he added. “We should’ve communicated more. I should communicate with all my friends more. I have no excuses.”
Citing the impact of Bryant’s death on him, O’Neal said he won’t be able to watch the Hall of Fame ceremony scheduled for August when the star guard will be posthumously inducted.
“I don’t want to see pictures and videos of him. I don’t,” he said.
Just after the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and eight others, including his teenage daughter Gianna, on Jan. 26, O’Neal pledged to make a major life change and resolve any ongoing, lingering conflicts he had with people.
On an episode of his own podcast, “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” recorded the day after Bryant died, O’Neal said, “Look, I’m all about being hard and all that, but after yesterday, I’m going to have to delete my beef and my confrontation clause. I don’t want to do that anymore because, you know, you never know.”
On his podcast right after the helicopter accident, O’Neal also expressed his desire to have spoken with Bryant more.
“I wish I would’ve communicated more. But again, that’s just how we are,” he said. “When we saw each other, it was love and respect and he looked out for the kids and I kept an eye on his daughter Gigi ― she was a fabulous player.”