Shaq: Feud with Kobe was 'designed' by Phil
by NBCSports.com News Services
Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal says his feud with former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant was fueled by Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.
"I swear to God. On the court, we never had a problem," O'Neal said. " . . . It's just that I'd say stuff, he'd say stuff. I think it was all designed by Phil [Jackson].
"Because if you think about it, Phil never called us into the office and said, 'Both of you all, shut up.' Never did that in four years. He knew that when I read something, I was going to get upset. And he knew Kobe was going to always come out and play hard. So I think it was all done by design."
O'Neal and Bryant will square off again on Thursday, when the Suns battle the Lakers.
O'Neal added, "I think it was all done by design. Really. He never called us in a meeting and said, 'Shut up.' And basically, it was never a face-to-face... thing. It was always, he'd say something to you, I'd say something to another guy, I'd say something to you. That's all it was.
"Now that I look back on it, that (stuff) was kind of fun. It really was. It was kind of fun. 'What did he say, what did he say?' I tell people if we would have had a reality show, we'd have had the No. 1 reality show in the world. It was fun. It was actually fun. (Brian) Shaw would be, 'Oh, man, why did you say that?' And then Karl (Malone) would be like, 'Yo, that was (messed) up what you said.' Then we'd try to outdo each other in the game.
"But while we were trying to outdo each other, the two best players in the game, we're outdoing everyone by far. (Heck), if he was open in the lane, I wasn't going to say, '(The heck with) you, Kobe.' I would still drop it off. But it was actually fun. And not only was it fun, we'll always be remembered as the best Laker one-two punch. I'm going on record saying we're the best Laker guard-center punch. You heard it from me. Ever."
O'Neal and Bryant led the Lakers to three straight titles from 1999-2002.
© 2008 NBC Sports.com
For more Sports coverage, visit NBCSports.com