Kevin Nealon Pays Tribute To Garry Shandling With A Beautiful Essay About Friendship

By: 03.29.16
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The tributes continue to pour in for comedian Garry Shandling, who died on Thursday, March 24. Fellow comic Kevin Nealon, the SNL alum and frequent Adam Sandler co-star, paid respect to his friend in the form of an essay for the Hollywood Reporter, as told to reporter and book editor Andy Lewis.

Nealon and Shandling shared a friendship for the better part of 35 years, and it’s easy to glean from the essay how much that friendship meant to him. “We talked about everything,” Nealon tells Lewis. “We talked about life and death and we talked about women and comedy and movies. When you’re with Garry, there is never anything not to talk about.”

The regular basketball games that went on at Shandling’s place in L.A. come up at the beginning of the essay, with Nealon describing how Shandling’s door “was always open for us.” Friends would gather, watch a little hoop on TV and then put their sneakers on and hit the court for a couple of hours of pickup before heading back inside for some grub:

“None of us were really good. Occasionally, there’d be a ringer in there. Garry tried to keep the game balanced. I remember Tom Petty being there once on the bench. He didn’t play but he was watching. Sarah Silverman played with us. Everyone from Billy Crystal to Jim Carrey joined in. Ryan O’Neal played in a couple of games with us over the years. I know I’m missing a lot of people.”

Nealon goes on to talk about how good Shandling was at bringing people together, and how even though the basketball games weren’t as frequent in recent years, a “semi-memorial” was held at Shandling’s house over the weekend with so many of the basketball players in attendance. Judd Apatow, another longtime friend and collaborator of Shandling’s, captured the scene on his Instagram account.

One last game of basketball at Garry's house to say goodbye.

A photo posted by Judd Apatow (@juddapatow) on

Most of all, Nealon told Lewis that he just felt sad knowing Shandling wouldn’t be so close by anymore. “I always knew he was up there. He lives about 10 minutes away from me. It’s like he was a lifeguard. If you had a problem, a joke, or if you wanted to go for a hike, he was always there, he was always around.”

Sounds like a really amazing friend to have.

(Via the Hollywood Reporter)

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