I think it was all designed by Phil (Jackson). Because if you think about it, Phil never called us into the office and said, ''Both of you all, shut the (heck) up.'' Never did that in four years. He knew that when I read something, I was going to get upset. And he knew Kobe was going to always come out and play hard. So I think it was all done by design.
You think he just wanted to light a fire under you guys? Yeah. I think that's exactly what it was. I think it was all done by design. Really. He never called us in a meeting and said, ''Shut up.'' And basically, it was never a face-to-face ... thing. It was always, he'd say something to you, I'd say something to another guy, I'd say something to you. That's all it was.
He does not rule out a return to the Lakers as a free agent in the summer of 2010 on a one-year deal to backup Andrew Bynum. (On the other hand, he says he doesn't want to go somewhere as a backup, but it's hard to imagine him at starter's minutes for a contender in two seasons.) The L.A. scenario is far off in ways that have nothing to do with the calendar -- owner Jerry Buss would have to sign off on it, and people close to Shaq know the breakup was so contentious that Buss might be the tougher sell than Kobe Bryant. But O'Neal, at least, is open to the possibility.
Bring Shaq back for the min. in 2010.