|All-Star weekend brings Shaq, Kobe together again|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 13 February 2009 14:24|
O'Neal didn't accuse Bryant of hogging the tools and Bryant didn't blame O'Neal for being too fat to keep up.
See that, those former feuders are getting along just fine.
The start of All-Star weekend brought the former Los Angeles Lakers back together Friday, five years after the end of a great partnership on the court and a better soap opera off it.
``It'll be like old times. It'll be great memories,'' O'Neal said. ``Kobe's playing at a very high level right now. It'll be like old times. I can remember, not that long ago, we were the best tandem ever created in the game. So it's going to be fun out there.''
2004 NBA finals, when they were upset by the Detroit Pistons, letting another possible title slip away.
They won three, but both say they would have won more had they stayed together. O'Neal guessed six or seven, Bryant said ``several more,'' but all agreed there was no use dwelling on the past.
``We just don't look at things like that in this game,'' said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who will coach the Western Conference. ``Things went the way they were supposed to go, and life goes on as far as that goes.''
Just like the old days, the two couldn't have seemed more different Friday. O'Neal, always the entertainer, had hugs and handshakes for old friends and foes, smiling his way throughout his return to All-Star weekend after missing last year's game.
Bryant arrived 45 minutes late for his session with the media and seemed to squirm with every mention of O'Neal's name.
``Everybody wants to make a story out of that thing and to us it's really not that big of a story,'' Bryant said. ``I'm not revisiting that. It wasn't a fun time for me so I'm not about to revisit it.''
just part of it.
Yet both swear things were never as bad as they seemed in the media.
``All of that stuff going back and forth, I think it was done purposely. I know times that I would say stuff just be saying it,'' O'Neal said. ``But I can tell you for a fact, and you can ask Kobe this, our years together we never had one problem in practice. It was always, he said something that I thought he'd said, and I'd come back.
``Not only that, we never had a problem in a game. It was always on point. We always looked out for each other. It was all marketing. It was a duo that's still talked about to this day, and I haven't played with him for what, five years? Which means my marketing worked.''
Their feud became out of control by the time of their loss in the 2004 finals. When they committed to Bryant that summer with a max deal to keep the free agent, it was time for O'Neal to go.
He was dealt to Miami, where he won another title two years later teamed with Dwyane Wade. Bryant and the Lakers never got past the first round of the playoffs the next three years before reaching the finals last season.
``Now that they look back on it, they kind of miss the times that they had and I'm sure they'll enjoy this weekend,'' Wade said.
mer. O'Neal claims they were never that bad, blaming the media for overhyping them and Jackson for allowing them to continue for so long.
O'Neal is now complimentary of Bryant, calling him the best player in the game. Bryant doesn't say much about O'Neal, trying to change the topic whenever he was asked Friday.
``I'm evasive on that subject,'' Bryant said. ``I don't get into it too much. We have a good relationship, though.''
They mostly kept their distance Friday. They were in opposite corners of a ballroom for their sessions with the media, with a large curtain dividing the room. They were separated by a couple of hundred yards at the community school project, O'Neal planting trees and painting on a basketball court, Bryant working with some mulch for the playground.
Yet their relationship was the center of attention, just the way O'Neal said he made it.
``A lot of it was done, especially by me, just to bring excitement,'' he said. ``Because Kobe and myself were the most dominant, dramatical and non-dramatical duo ever created.
``I told Kobe this, if we had our own reality show, it would be the best reality show ever. Kobe vs. Shaq on the West Coast; on the East Coast, Shaq vs. Kobe. It'd be the best show ever.''