"We're up here, we work a lot. And I think a lot of times, we take stuff for granted. Like, I don't talk to you guys as much as I needed to," a tearful Shaq told his NBA on TNT colleagues.
"The fact that we're not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony, we're not going to be able to say, 'Haha, I've got five, you've got four,'" he continued. "... The fact that we're not going to be able to say, 'If we would have stayed together, we could've gotten 10.' Those are the things we can't get back. And with the loss of my father, my sister... That's the only thing. I just wish I could say something to them again."
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six other passengers and the pilot were killed Sunday when the chartered Sikorsky S-76B helicopter they were in plowed into a cloud-shrouded hillside in Calabasas, Calif. The retired NBA star was on his way to a youth basketball tournament in which Gianna was playin
Shaq reflected on the last time he had spoken to Bryant, expressing regret that he did not talk to him more often.
"I work a lot, you guys know what I do. I probably work more than the average guy, I just really have to now just take time and call and say 'I love you,'" O'Neal said. "Rick Fox finally called me and said, 'Man, I love you.' So I'm gonna try to do a better job and just reaching out to people rather than always procrastinating. I could never imagine [anything] like this. I was thinking the other day, I've never seen anything like this. All the basketball idols I grew up with -- I see them. They're old... I've met them, I've seen them."
He honored Bryant, calling him "the world's best Laker, world's best basketball player."
"Listen, people gonna say take your time and get better, but it's gonna be hard for me," the former NBA all-star said. "My condolences go out to his family, his mom, his dad, his sisters, the other families, everybody involved."
"I didn't want to believe it," O'Neil said. "I said to myself, 'I hope somebody, some buttface made this up and it's not true. I didn't want to believe it. And then I get all these calls and you finally feel the concern and just, my spirit just left my body."
He added: "I just wish I could be able to say one thing, one last thing to the people that we lost because once you're gone, you're gone forever and, you know, we should never take stuff like that for granted."