Shaq talks relationship with Kobe, Penny, more

 NBA legend and NBA on TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal brought his larger-than-life personality to the latest episode of “The Pivot Podcast” as he opened up for the first time about two regrets in his life: his divorce and not sufficiently reaching out to Kobe Bryant before his tragic death. Those topics and much more are examined in the new episode available now on the show’s YouTube channel.

After O’Neal praised the show for its ability to bring out new sides of its guests, O’Neal begins the episode by telling podcast co-hosts and former NFL stars Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor about how he tailors his life based on the same disciplined principles he was raised with by his stepfather Phillip Harrison.

“I was a high-level juvenile delinquent,” said O’Neal. “My dad’s only mission was to teach me to be a leader, not a follower. I started playing basketball because I watched the movie ‘The Fish Who Saved Pittsburgh’ and I loved Julius Erving in it. My dad saw that I wasn’t doing well in school, so he said, ‘if you do better in school, I’ll take you to see Dr. J.’ So we’re at Madison Square Garden, and Dr. J went up and dunked and the crowd went crazy. It was like the basketball gods entered me right then. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

O’Neal also makes sure to praise his mother Lucille throughout the episode, using her hard work while raising them as motivation and her happiness as his measuring stick for success.

“My definition of being rich is seeing a beautiful black woman, Dr. Lucille O’Neal, wake up, cook a hell of a breakfast, make sure we were fresh, take us to and pick us up from school, and make a hell of a dinner,” said O’Neal. “We would go buy a nice house and I could see in her eyes, that’s what she wanted. So my definition of being rich is being able to buy my mama whatever she wants…She’s the woman who sacrificed everything for me when we didn’t have nothing. Being able to get her whatever she wants, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

The conversation stays on family, giving O’Neal a chance to open up for the first time about his 2011 divorce from his ex-wife Shaunie, including the blame that he shoulders for the situation and how he eventually was able to motivate himself to move forward with his life.

“I never talked about this and I’m glad you guys asked, but I was bad,” explained O’Neal. “She was awesome and I was really bad. I wasn’t protecting her and I wasn’t protecting those vows. She did exactly what she was supposed to do.

“The best feeling was coming home and hearing five or six different voices. I was just being greedy. I had the perfect situation. Wife was finer than a mug. I had it all. I don’t make excuses. I know I messed up. I was lost. In a 76,000 square foot house by myself. Lost…I said to myself, you’re not married, but you still need to provide for this family. Get your ass up and man up. What are you going to do next?”

O’Neal was able to find that next step through his many ventures outside of basketball, including numerous investments that take up his time outside of his TNT duties. For O’Neal, he took a similar motivation from the basketball world into those business ventures.

“I like proving people wrong,” said O’Neal. “I like doing good business. I like meeting outstanding people and I just try to navigate positively in the world. I realized that if you started winning, you could walk into any restaurant and eat for free and do anything you want.”

Naturally, the discussion turns to basketball and specifically his early career with Penny Hardaway and the Orlando Magic. O’Neal initially tells a story of how he pushed Magic management to draft Hardaway, before explaining how the Hardaway situation turned into one of his few regrets.

“Penny and I were two young superstars who let other people get into our heads,” said O’Neal. “I was thinking we were the next Magic and Kareem. The problems started happening when people started say ‘who’s shit this was?’ Instead of being about the team…So when I got the Lakers contract, my agent told me Orlando wasn’t going to match, so I signed right there.

“I think if I slash we, didn’t have those egos, we could have worked that out. Because Penny was Kobe before Kobe. That’s something I always think about, because I could have stayed there, ended up there long term and owned a piece of the team.”

After O’Neal moved on to the Los Angeles Lakers, he endured a higher profile, more obligations and pressure. He tells the hosts about the unlikely source that helped him learn how to tune out the criticism that came with his high-profile position.

“When I was losing in L.A., I would get all of the flack and it made me go crazy,” said O’Neal. “The team had me meet with a nuclear physicist, his name was Burt, and he made me watch the movie ‘The Fan.’ The whole thing in that movie is that Wesley Snipes’ character just doesn’t care. So, Burt asked me why I cared so much what other people wrote and said? Once I stopped caring, I took off.

“He told me that I should have one hand stress. I only care about what my mama says, what my kids think, if it’s going to mess up the money and what my boys think,” continued O’Neal, while counting fingers. “If the nobody can influence the somebody, then the nobody wins.”

In discussing his time in Los Angeles, the group pushes O’Neal into talking about his time with Bryant, and how their rocky relationship was maintained enough for them to win three championships before O’Neal’s Lakers career ended in 2004.

“We’ll always go down as the most enigmatic, most dominant and controversial one-two punch, big and little, ever,” said O’Neal. “Let’s talk about it in street terms. I had the block for a long time, but there’s another kid with the potential to run the block and he wants your block. He always kept me on my toes. If he got 25 points, I have to get 40.

“Our relationship was perfect and not perfect. It was perfect because we made each other play at a certain level and we were able to win three titles. Did we get along all the time on the court? No, but that’s how it is in sports…As a leader, you either focus on the task or the relationship. As a leader, I focused on the task.”

That task led to those three-straight championships and legendary status as a team and as a duo. Despite the accomplishments that many predict they would have achieved had they stayed together longer, O’Neal claims that he wouldn’t have changed anything he did during their careers.

“People thought it was worse than it was, but it was just two brothers with differences of opinion. I always tell people, watch after we won that first championship. When I have my arms raised, who’s the first person that jumps into my arms? If we hated each other, how’d we have that moment? The thing that kept us going was the respect.”

For O’Neal, the regrets regarding his relationship with Bryant stem from after their playing careers. Never fully squashing the beef between the two legends is something that still haunts O’Neal to this day, exacerbated by Bryant’s untimely passing coming just days after his sister passed away.

“I wish we could have communicated more, because I still have sleepless nights,” said O’Neal. “I was hit with a double whammy, because my sister passed away first, right before Kobe. I’m quick to say, I have to go do this podcast, I’ll call him later, and then never do it.

“I called my guy at the sheriff office, he confirmed it, and I started crying. I’m like goddamnit, I didn’t even holler at him. We did the sit down that everyone was waiting for, and that’s the last time we talked. I didn’t get the number, I didn’t call him, I didn’t text him, and that still haunts me. All the shit we went through, we could have shook hands and put it aside…I think about it all of the time, I have pictures of him in my house that I see and…I just can’t sleep.”

As one of the most famous Lakers of all-time, O’Neal is also asked about the recent struggles of the team, who missed the playoffs this past season. Despite sporting superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, O’Neal believes there is much work that needs to be done to return the team to the Shaq and Kobe Lakers era glory.

“The only knock on LeBron is that they don’t fear him anymore,” said O’Neal. “He’s older, so these young guys like a Ja Morant, they don’t fear him. Then you have a guy like Davis, who’s supposed to be carrying them, and he’s in street clothes. You have to look at the people at the top. I really think they need to get some younger guys in there around LeBron.”

After some more conversation on the current state of the game, the podcast hosts ask a similar question to what they pose to all of their guests. Clark asks what O’Neal has learned from a defining moment or “pivot” in his life, ending the episode on another poignant note that goes beyond surface level with one of sports’ biggest stars, as O’Neal once again gives his mother props for being his guiding light morally.

“You just have to realize that just because things you do make you seem perfect, you’re not perfect,” said O’Neal. “That was a big mistake in my relationship with Penny, big mistake in my relationship with Kobe and a horrible mistake in both marriages. Other than that, I don’t really dwell on a lot…I’m glad that I’ve lived my life and I’ve done it my way.

“I’ll know that I’ve made a mistake when I get the call from the woman of my dreams, Dr. Lucille O’Neal. Then I’ll correct it. If she calls me and says ‘baby, don’t do that,’ I’ll correct it. But if I don’t get that call, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Suns’ Booker on 47-point explosion: ‘I was just locked in’

It’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NBA; so much has to go your way, including staying healthy. Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were healthy, which led to an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, both Davis and James miss extended time due to injuries, and both Davis and James were not completely healthy in the playoffs.

James battled an ankle injury, while Davis battled a groin injury that occurred in Game 4, which forced him to miss Game 5 and led to him leaving in early in the first quarter and not coming back after trying to give it a go in Game 6 on Wednesday night.

All that aside, this game was about the greatness of Devin Booker, who scored 22 of his playoff career-high 47 points in the first quarter as the Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 at Staples Center. 

Phoenix led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 points in the game.

The Suns, who won the series 4-2 to capture their first playoff series victory in 11 years, move on to the Western Conference semifinals to battle the Denver Nuggets, while the defending- champion Lakers go home. 

Booker, who’s making his playoff debut after missing the postseason in the first four years of his career, shot 8-10 from the field in the first quarter and was 6/6 from three-point range(six threes is his regular-season career-high). He finished the game shooting 15/22 from the field and made a career-high eight threes.

Booker was ready for this game, which he discussed after the victory. 

“I was just locked in, to be completely honest with you,” Booker said. “I had a tough time taking my pregame nap, all out of excitement. We treated this game like a Game 7. We were stressing since we won the last game that we wanted to end it here on their home court.”

Booker is a huge fan of Laker great, the late Kobe Bryant, and he brought that “Mamba Mentality” in Game 6.  Bryant once gave Booker a pair of his sneakers and wrote ‘Be Legendary’ on them. Booker would later get that phrase tattooed on him. The two-time All-Star felt Bryant’s presence when he saw Kobe’s 8 and 24 resting in the rafters at Staples Center, which he discussed post-game.  

“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had, kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there,” Booker said. “So, seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.”

Booker has star potential and talent, and now the world gets the see how good of a player he is and can be on the playoff stage.


James, who led the Lakers with 29 points on Thursday night, lost for the first time in the first round of the playoffs.  Coming into this series, James was 14-0.

Chris Paul, who appeared to hurt his shoulder again in the first quarter, but would return, finished the game with eight points and 12 assists.

Garnett: ‘From day one, I wanted to be able to be different’

One of the greatest classes in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame history will be honored on Saturday night. Headlined by the late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, the Hall of Fame class of 2020 will be inducted at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony was postponed and rescheduled for this year.

Garnett, who was a 15-time All-Star and will be presented by Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, was one of the best power forwards in his era. He had a lot of battles with many great power forwards at that time. In the late 90s and early 2000s, in the NBA, especially in the Western Conference, you had guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Duncan, Chris Webber, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and more. Hence, it was not easy to make your mark in the league at the power forward position. 

As the position evolved, instead of post-ups, players started to face-up and became more perimeter-oriented.

On Friday, at the Hall of Fame press conference, the former MVP, discussed how he wanted to be different and the challenges of being a power forward at that time in the league. 

“The competition was real, night in and night out, you had a challenge every night,” Garnett said. “It wasn’t like an easy night at the four at the time. I think you had Chris Webber; you had Dirk(Nowitzki), you had Dice(Antonio McDyess), you had Joe Smith, you had Sheed(Rasheed Wallace), you had Timmy(Duncan), you had Chuck(Charles Barkley), you had Karl(Malone). The list goes on and on. 

“From day one, I wanted to be able to be different. I wanted to face-up. When I first came into the league in 95′, a lot of the bigs had the back to the basket. You didn’t see a lot of face-ups. Through the glory of working with Kevin McHale, I started to change the narrative of what a four looks like. I wanted to be a lot more versatile.”

Anything is possible, and coming from South Carolina, going to high school in Chicago, starting his NBA career in Minnesota, going to Boston, and finally winning an NBA title with the Celtics. Garnett has seen and done a lot in the NBA. Now, he is in basketball heaven. 

The Class of 2020 inductees will also include Patrick Baumann, 18-time NBA All-Star 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time collegiate National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton and two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich. 

Watch as Garnett talks Bryant, winning in Boston, and more:

Singer NE-YO to perform at Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

 The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, multi-Grammy Award-winning artist NE-YO will perform at the Class of 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. on Saturday, May 15. The ceremony will be hosted by Ahmad Rashad and the television broadcast schedule will be announced on Monday, May 10.

“As we return to live events, we’re excited to elevate the experience by providing our attendees, and fans tuning-in from home, a performance by world-class artist NE-YO,” said John Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “We sincerely appreciate the support of the basketball community in making this overdue celebration come to fruition and we look forward to honoring the historic Class of 2020.”

“It’s a privilege and honor to perform for such heroes in the game, including the late Kobe Bryant,” said Motown Records/Compound Entertainment recording artist NE-YO. “I’ve admired and respected these players for years; I’m looking forward to safely performing and celebrating this year’s class.”

The Class of 2020 inductees are longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann, 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens, four-time collegiate National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, and two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich.


Tim Duncan reacts to making Hall of Fame(VIDEO)

On Saturday, it became official. The greatest Hall of Fame class in Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame history was finally assembled.

The late Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and six others were selected to the Hall and will be enshrined in August at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This is a great class, which many have had circled on their calendar for years. Sadly, Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who, along with seven others, died in a helicopter accident in January, will not be there.

Here is the complete list of the class of 2020:










After the announcement, Duncan, a 15-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion reacted to making the Hall of Fame.

Here is what he had to say:


Wizards’ Thomas on Kobe: ‘He’s the greatest of all-time, in life, and in basketball'(VIDEO)

Yesterday, was one of the toughest days in NBA history, as NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter accident in California.

Bryant, who played 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers, retired from the NBA in 2016. 

There were eight games on Sunday in the NBA, and many players, coaches, and media members were visibly upset, including Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas.

Bryant and Thomas had a close relationship, and according to Thomas, the two spoke just last week.

“He meant everything to me,” Thomas said after the Wizards’ 152-133 loss to the Hawks on Sunday. “I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant… 2017, I lose my sister; 2019, I lose one my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and to lose a mentor of mine, like, that’s bigger than basketball.

“He’s the greatest of all-time, in life, and in basketball. That’s how much I looked up to him, so his legacy gonna live forever, but this was a dent in everybody’s life that he’s touch, for sure. 

“I admired him from afar, and then, I think he respects people’s work ethic. I just slowly built a relationship with him on the court, and when I got to Boston, it got a little closer where it was off the court. And then my sister passed away, and that’s when it got real close. He was one of them people that was there for me in my corner, and then I got injured, he was one of those guys who was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally, so like I said, it’s bigger than basketball. It’s hard to even talk about it. Like, the NBA should have just canceled all the games today, for real…

“My focus was not on the game, really. It’s like, my kids called me and told me he passed away. Let that sink in.”

No one should die at 41, and sadly, we all have to deal with the fact that Kobe Bryant will never grace this earth again.

Listen to Thomas’ thoughts on Bryant below:


Spurs’ Buford: ‘The loss of Kobe and Gianna leaves a giant hole in our hearts’

Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO RC Buford today released the following statement on behalf of the Spurs organization on the death of Kobe Bryant:

“Kobe inspired all of us. In San Antonio, we were blessed to have enjoyed a front row seat to his greatness. He had an unmatched combination of determination, skill, competitiveness, personality, grace, passion and intelligence. The loss of Kobe and Gianna leaves a giant hole in our hearts. It’s impossible to express the pain we feel for Vanessa and the Bryant family.”

Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter accident on Sunday in Calabasas, California.

Mavs’ Cuban: ‘Our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick’

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban issued the following statement on the passing of Kobe, and his daughter, Gianna Bryant, who, along with seven others, tragically passed away from a helicopter accident in California on Sunday.

Here what Cuban had to say:

“We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father.

“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick. 

“Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere.”