How meeting Kobe Bryant inspired the development of Shaq's larger-than-life persona

Sometime during the first round of the '94 NBA Playoffs, when  were in Orlando to play , a 16-year-old kid came to Orlando's locker room, wanting to meet . He ended up meeting  instead. Over two decades later, during their  sit down,  that kid was .

Penny's not a bad guy, but I don't know what's going on that day, he was just, 'Whatever.' Kobe was standing there, and I actually remember this day, I grabbed him and said, 'Come on, little fella, I'll take a picture with you.'Shaquille O'Neal, The Rex Chapman Show with Josh Hopkins

That was the first time Shaq and Kobe met. Seven years later, they won their first NBA championship together. A year later, they won another one. A year later, they won their third straight, establi

And while NBA titles are what people cherish the most about the Kobe-Shaq dynasty, the latter values their moment in the Magic locker room above all because that's where O'Neal's larger-than-life aura originates from.

Then I said to myself, I want to be the guy that, when you see myself, I want to make you smile.Shaquille O'Neal, The Rex Chapman Show with Josh Hopkins

What he did ever since goes along with the lesson the 16-year-old Bryant unknowingly taught him. From the time he  for expressing his condolences for Kobe's tragic passing,  to a 12-year-old shooting victim's family, to just recently, when he paid for a fan's engagement ring, O'Neal has been the exact person Kobe wanted Penny to be when he got into that locker room.

Even throughout day-to-day interactions with fans, whether it's taking pictures or giving out autographs, Shaq remains humble, approachable, withholding no one from meeting him. And that in and of itself is a challenge - most celebrities have their fair share of rude moments with fans. But not Shaq. In part because of the first time he met Kobe Bryant.

A historical moment for the NBA, but more importantly, the turning point for one of its most dominant big men ever.

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