Finally, a rivalry indeed renewed.
The NBA Finals sputtered out a week ago, failing to live up to past Lakers and Celtics lore. Leave it to Shaquille O’Neal, part-time center, part-time rapper, to pick up the pieces -- or the microphone -- and poke and prod at the embers of a feud with Kobe Bryant that had all but died out some time ago.
“You know how I be. Last week Kobe couldn’t do without me,” O’Neal freestyle-rapped Sunday at a New York nightclub in footage shown on TMZ.com.
To the Lakers and Bryant losing the Finals, still without a championship since O’Neal was traded from the team four years ago, while O’Neal picked up his fourth ring in 2006 with Miami.
The italicized comments are some of the tamer and printable remarks in an obscenity-laced two-minute verse.
O’Neal, now a member of the Phoenix Suns, and Bryant had a long-standing and much-publicized feud, butting heads while guiding the Lakers to three championships from 2000 to 2002.
In the end, and to sum up a long story that has its own tedious Wikipedia entry under “Shaq-Kobe feud,” Bryant was favored and O’Neal was traded to the Heat.
But not before it was unearthed that Bryant, while being investigated on a sexual assault charge five years ago, told investigators he should have done as O’Neal did and pay women off not to talk after sexual encounters.
So it stewed and brewed and each time they played, stories were written solely off how the two reacted to seeing each other before tipoff.
Finally, though, it seemed as if cooler heads had prevailed, with O’Neal even lobbying Bryant as his most-valuable-player choice this season.
Until O’Neal’s rap.
By late Monday, O’Neal appeared to be backtracking from his remarks.
Efforts to reach Bryant’s and O’Neal’s representatives were unsuccessful.
However, O’Neal did tell ESPN.com: “It was all done in fun. Nothing serious whatsoever . . . I’m totally cool with Kobe. No issue at all.”
He said that Monday.
Here’s another snippet of what he said Sunday, in which he suggests Bryant’s comments were a factor in O’Neal’s separating from his wife, Shaunie:
“I’m a horse. Kobe ratted me out. That’s why I’m getting divorced. He said Shaq gave a [woman a] mil[lion dollars]. I don’t do that ‘cause my name’s Shaquille.”
And so, it is.
And, indeed, he is correct that Bryant couldn’t do it without O’Neal this year.
Just as the Suns, who exited in the playoffs’ first round, couldn’t do it with him.
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Shaquille O’Neal’s memorable quotes on former teammate Kobe Bryant:
“My little brother.”
In his 2001 autobiography, “Shaq Talks Back.”
“The guy’s a joke. I’m just trying to tell the world that the whole time, but just because he hits a couple of shots, everybody thinks he’s a great person. He’s a clown.”
O’Neal said to a reporter during a 2004 photo shoot in Miami
“You know how I be. Last week, Kobe couldn’t do without me.”
O’Neal, during a freestyle rap, at a party in New York on Sunday