O'Neal: There's more behind Rudy T decision

Updated: February 3, 2005, 11:52 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- The prospect of Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant reuniting in Los Angeles wouldn't surprise Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaquille O'Neal
O'Neal

Jackson is being mentioned as a candidate to replace Rudy Tomjanovich as the Lakers' coach and Tomjanovich resigned Wednesday, citing stress and health reasons.

Before his Miami Heat played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, O'Neal said he'll wish Jackson well if his old coach returns to his old job.

"I'm not surprised, because he's like the only one that's left," O'Neal said. "He knows the system. He has a relationship with the system. He'll probably get a great deal, great money and I wish him well."

O'Neal also hinted that there was more to Tomjanovich's decision than what was publicly revealed. "I know the real deal. Officer O'Neal knows it all, baby. ... But I won't be the first to talk about it."

After the Lakers lost last year's NBA Finals in five games to Detroit, the core that won three titles together was broken up.

Jackson resigned, and O'Neal was traded to the Heat in exchange for three players. Bryant, meanwhile, signed a $136 million, seven-year deal to remain with the Lakers.

But the soap opera didn't end there.

Bryant denied rumors that he played in role in Jackson and O'Neal's departures; Jackson then wrote a tell-all book portraying Bryant as aloof and difficult to coach, and O'Neal refused to even speak Bryant's name in interviews leading up to their ballyhooed matchup on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.

O'Neal said he doesn't take satisfaction from watching another circus develop around the Lakers.

"It wasn't always like that. It's just a guy like that is the whole reason," O'Neal said. "Me being the businessman that I am, I got out at the right time. I'm in a perfect situation now. ... Things are going good over here and we're right on track."

While in Los Angeles, O'Neal often said Jackson would be the last coach he'd play for. But even if Jackson comes back to the Lakers, O'Neal says he's happy where he is.

"I wouldn't go back there," O'Neal said. "If Micky [Arison, the Heat's owner] sold this team and bought that team, I still wouldn't go back there and play with those people."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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