Shaquille O’Neal blamed Lakers coach Phil Jackson for the creative tension between O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. O’Neal said during a lengthy interview with a Sacramento Bee reporter last week that he never had problem with Bryant. He also said he was open to returning to the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in 2010. Bryant can opt out of his contract with the Lakers next summer, by the way.
Bryant didn’t wish to talk about O’Neal’s comments, which were reported in the print editions of the Daily News and its sister papers on Saturday. The story also is up on the Daily News Web site, with lots and lots of comments.
Anyway, Jackson had a few things to say about O’Neal after Monday’s practice. Here are a few of his comments.
“Well, I’m glad we motivated him when he was here and we won three championships. I think that was the best thing we did. We all have good feelings about that time. And, yes, I’m sure there were some plans in motivating Shaq. We were having a lot of fun as a team. It was just a laugh and a goof. That part was fun, but 2004 got a little bit tense. That was a tough time.”
Bryant, Jackson and the Lakers face O’Neal and the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.