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Shaq: 'I always did love Kobe'

Updated: January 31, 2009, 9:17 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

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 ...

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