Former teammates O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Robert Horry and Derek Fisher also reflected on playing with Bryant in video messages.

“All the years I’ve been playing here, the child inside of me has never left,” Bryant said, joking that he was a “kid so young you had to burp him before practice” when he arrived in LA as an 18-year-old rookie. “One of the first things I did when I walked into the Forum, it was dimly lit, and I looked up to see the jerseys. Before every game, I made it a point to glance up there to remind me what I was playing for, how I got here, and what it is we’re playing for. …To be a part of that wall means everything to me.”

During the game, the Lakers aired video tributes from Lakers coach Luke Walton, assistant coach Brian Shaw, and a host of current players, including Lonzo Ball, Brook Lopez, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. “Can you imagine a future Laker trying to put on one of those jerseys? It wouldn’t look right,” Walton said. “It wouldn’t feel right.”

Messages of congratulations from rival players and coaches—?including Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers, Gilbert Arenas, Gregg Popovich and Carmelo Anthony – were also displayed on the Jumbotron. “His mentality was kill or be killed,” Anthony said. “And if you were prey, he was coming for you.”

O’Neal, who teamed with Bryant to win three consecutive titles from 2000 to 2002 before being traded to the Heat, hailed Bryant’s supreme self-confidence and said that their love-hate pairing “was fun while it lasted.” Bryant shared on-court embraces with O’Neal, Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Allen Iverson and former Lakers trainer Gary Vitti, among many others.

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