"It happens, it's over with, we just have to move on," O'Neal
said before the Lakers flew to Phoenix for a game on Saturday
night. "He's boisterous. I'm boisterous. I don't take anything
O'Neal hadn't spoken with reporters since Sunday, when he said
after practice that the Lakers were "my team," adding that Bryant
needed to be more of a team player -- an observation based on two
exhibition games last week.
O'Neal had sniped at Bryant several times previously during the
preseason, who has been ordered to stand trial on a sexual assault
charge in Colorado.
Bryant ripped into O'Neal during a telephone interview with ESPN
on Monday, calling him "childlike," "unprofessional,"
"selfish," "fat" and "jealous."
It was the first overt sign of hostility between the superstars
since midway through the 2000-01 season, when their simmering feud
"We just have to move on and focus on what's good for the
team," an upbeat O'Neal said after practice Friday. "I wasn't
upset. If somebody's used to it, it's us. We know how to have a
"In a marriage, if you keep talking about a problem the problem
won't go away. It happened, we just have to move on. If you say
something, a person can take things positively or negatively. We
both took it negatively."
When asked if he felt comfortable with Bryant as a teammate,
O'Neal replied: "Of course. I need him, he needs me, we need each
other. He's the ying. I'm the yang. Opposites attract. We're just
different. Off the court, he does his thing. Off the court, I do my
O'Neal and Bryant led the Lakers to three straight championships
from 2000-2002. They were eliminated last May by eventual champion
San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals.
Bryant said earlier in the week that he had put the feud behind
him, but O'Neal refused comment until Friday.
Then, after beating teammate Karl Malone 3-1 in a 3-point shooting contest, instead of avoiding reporters as he left the court, he met them with a smile.
"I'm good, I'm cool today," he said.
Bryant spoke with reporters after sitting out Tuesday night's
109-93 season-opening victory because of soreness and weakness in
his surgically repaired right knee and again Wednesday and
Thursday, but didn't do so Friday.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he was "pretty optimistic" that
Bryant would play against the Suns but a decision wouldn't be made
until sometime Saturday.
"He does wear down," Jackson said. "We thought he tired less
in this practice than he does in most of them. We'll make
adjustments during the game as far as how much time he plays."
Regarding O'Neal, Jackson said: "He's in a good mood. He has
been since Tuesday. Everything's been downhill for us."
Before the game against the Mavericks, Jackson described
O'Neal's mood as somber. O'Neal had been somewhat hostile with the
media in the days leading up to Friday, but was pleasant and
clearly in good spirits during a five-minute interview session.
"It's not as big as people think it is," Malone said about the
O'Neal-Bryant matter. "Let's move on. We could talk about it all
year. Let it die, it's over with."
Regarding the events of the last few days, Malone said: "It's
been practice as usual -- guys getting after it. That's all we've
been talking about."