Shaquille O’Neal was led out of Staples Center in handcuffs Tuesday night.
But that was by security guard Will Ferrell as part of a joke. A few years ago you might have thought Kobe Bryant would have ordered Shaq’s removal — their relationship was still frosty and competitive going back to their days as teammates. Remember when Kobe won his fifth ring and was asked if it was good to be ahead of Shaq on that count he could barely contain his excitement.
Now though, they are friends. Seriously. They’ve moved on from their Hatfields and McCoys feud.
“It was good to see him,” Bryant said after O’Neal sat in courtside seats for the Lakers’ 91-85 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. “I had a chance to kind of catch up with him a little bit after the [Miami] Heat game here at Staples [on Jan. 17], and tonight we got a couple good laughs, a couple good inside jokes…
“Shaq and I have a really, really good relationship now,” Bryant said of the 15-time All-Star with whom he teamed to capture three straight NBA championships from 2000 to ’02. “It’s good. I think it’s a good lesson for all of us.”
Good for them. That feud ran deep, and it was real. But as a friend recently reminded me, if you are ever on the side arguing against forgiveness you are just stalling for time because you are on the losing side. As we mature, we (usually) let the petty things go and focus on what matters.
The three rings matter a whole lot more to Kobe and Shaq now than who was the man back in the day or what someone said while doing a freestyle rap.
Of course, Kobe’s teammate Dwight Howard probably didn’t see Shaq’s appearance as a fun chance to walk down memory lane. O’Neal has blasted Howard’s toughness on TNT and just about everywhere else.
Howard’s really going to love when they retire Shaq’s jersey later this season.