The brief encounter with fans came after Shaq offered a heartfelt recollection of Kobe in a special for TNT. The network had been scheduled to broadcast Tuesday's Lakers-Clippers game but it was postponed as the teams, the city and the entire world mourn Bryant's death.
As O'Neal was leaving the arena, he encountered fans wearing Lakers jerseys. They initially shouted out "Shaq, Shaq," but he quickly quieted them down with a finger to his lips.
Then he started leading them in chants of "Kobe, Kobe," jumping into the air as he went to his vehicle.
The former Lakers superstar center played with Bryant for eight seasons, winning three championships together.
They had a tumultuous relationship near the end of their time playing together, but later reconciled and remained close friends. O'Neal's son recalled getting a text message from Bryant just hours before the helicopter crash that took his life, just to check in on how he was doing.
Shaq sobbed as he shared stories about Kobe, their competitive relationship, and what the loss meant to him.
"We're not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. We're not going be able to joke and say ha I got five, you got four," he said.
Jerry West, who engineered the draft-day trade that brought Bryant to the Lakers and then mentored him for years, said it felt like he lost a son.
"This is a sad city right now," West said. "Saddest day in my life."
"Honestly I felt like his father for two years. I don't know if I can get over this. I really don't."