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Old 02-02-2009, 10:54 PM   #1
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Default Shaq: 'I always did love Kobe'

Shaq: 'I always did love Kobe'

Shaquille O'Neal, the newly minted All-Star for the Western Conference, has claimed Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson as new allies, saying the longtime rivalry between himself and the Lakers forward was simply a marketing gimmick.

"We helped you hype it up," the Suns center said late Thursday night in an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. "I know what I'm doing, brother. I'm the smartest player in the world."

O'Neal and Bryant have shared an off-the-court history of bickering through the media that was fueled during O'Neal's last season with the Lakers in 2004, when the duo jockeyed for position as the franchise's next cornerstone.

O'Neal said Thursday the feud with Bryant was nothing more than fodder for driving revenue.

"I always did love Kobe," O'Neal said. "It was all marketing."

Do you buy this? I don't. I think there was plenty of tension between the two; two superstars couldn't co-exist and both wanted the spotlight. What clearly has happened is time has healed the wounds and Shaq's playing it off. But there was too much smoke for there to have been no fire...
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