Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant says Shaquille O’Neal feud is over


shaq-kobeLos Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has had a lot of time to reflect as he nears the end of his storied career, and it appears that he has put the infamous feud he had with former teammate Shaquille O’Neal behind him.

“Shaq and I have a really, really good relationship now,” Bryant told ESPN Los Angeles. “It’s good, I think it’s a lesson for all of us.”

That lesson could be gleaned in a number of ways — that bygones should be bygones, one should appreciate what one has, always forgive and forget and so on.

Those were all things that both players had a hard time during their time as teammates from 1996-2004 that resulted in three NBA titles for the Lakers and multiple awards between the two of them, including a 2000 NBA MVP award for O’Neal.

Bryant preferred to focus on what they were able to accomplish when they were able to be amicable partners until Lakers’ management decided to trade O’Neal to the Miami Heat amid friction between the team’s two alpha males. The time apart appears to have healed all of those wounds.

“I think we appreciate each other more now than ever,” Bryant said. “I think the further you get away from the history that you had together, the more you put perspective on it on how dominant we were.”

O’Neal retired after 19 seasons in the NBA in 2011 after playing for seven different teams. The NBA legend will have his No. 34 jersey retired on April 2 at Staples Center.

Following his career at Louisiana State University, O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.

He quickly became one of the top centers in the league, winning Rookie of the Year in 1992–93 and later leading his team to the 1995 NBA Finals.

After four years with the Magic, O’Neal signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

Amid tension between O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and his fourth NBA championship followed in 2006. Midway through the 2007–2008 season he was traded to the Phoenix Suns.

After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, O’Neal was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009–10 season. O’Neal played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010–11 season before retiring.

O’Neal played in 1207 NBA games (1197 started), averaging 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg in 34.7 minutes of action.

He was a 15-time NBA All-Star, and won 4 NBA championships (three with Los Angeles Lakers, one with Miami Heat).

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