L.A. Times: Reporting from Phoenix — Phil Jackson stood in a dim hallway amid a semi-circle of reporters, talking about how difficult it is to box out Shaquille O’Neal, when the topic of discussion emerged from a nearby practice court, pushed his way through the media pack and gave Jackson a sweaty embrace.

O’Neal whispered in Jackson’s ear for a few seconds before walking away and saying, “You know I wouldn’t do that to you.”

Jackson smiled briefly, a hint of catharsis in what had been an odd week of revisiting the O’Neal-Jackson-Kobe Bryant triangle leading up to Thursday’s game between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns.

O’Neal asserted last week in a Sacramento Bee story that the tension between Bryant and O’Neal earlier this decade was “all designed by Phil, because if you think about it, Phil never called us into the office and said, ‘Both of you all, shut . . . up.’ ”

O’Neal distanced himself from the comments Wednesday, telling reporters that, “We won championships, and it would be idiotic of me to say something bad about him now.”

(From time to time, however, O’Neal has criticized Jackson, calling him “Benedict Arnold” after Jackson returned to coach the Lakers, and Bryant, in 2005.)

A few seconds after the embrace from O’Neal, Jackson said he wanted to believe his former center.

“I had no doubt that [article] was something out of context, or whatever,” Jackson said. “We had a great time. We had a great run for four years, five years.”

Then Jackson took off his glasses and mopped his brow to make sure there wasn’t any of O’Neal’s sweat still on his forehead. He was smiling.

  • David

    after we win the ring this year… i wouldn’t mind seeing shaq back with us to finish the career here with kobe winning couple more together… and bynum can learn alot from shaq if they’re together…

  • http://TheVerveNerve.com Billy Kupchak

    [Comment ID #55136 Will Be Quoted Here]

    if that’s your holiday wish my friend, consider my father to be SANTA CLAUSE! :cool:

  • xtro

    shaq whispered to phil’s ear, ” I’ll see you back in L.A. in 2012.”

  • ICE CREAM MAN

    He’s coming back and retiring a Laker for sure. Bring him home AFTER we win a Championship first.

  • kb24_1OVERJORDAN

    i dont mind that shaq comes back to LA…..i cant hate him for the 3 championship rings that he help bring to LA…

  • Michael_23

    He’s comin off the bench for Bynum by the time is 2011. 39 yrs old. He can mentor Bynum too if he comes over. Wow, Bynum being mentored by Kareem and Shaq. That’s a nice blessing.

    This probably will never happen, but what if 3 or 4 years from now he has both Shaq’s and Kareem’s skills. Wow. Hence, not Shaq’s freethrow %, but you know what i mean.

  • xtro

    Shaq also added, “You will have triple towers in 2010, fo’ sho.’”

  • Majic “Big” Johnson

    Damn.. No comment

  • LAKERNATION

    For that to happen we would have to clear a couple roster spots for him because a BIG DREW, PAU, o’neal, CHRIS, JOSH, and DJ front court would be no min. and room for CHRIS, JOSH, and DJ. But a 3 tower team with BIG DREW, PAU, and o’neal well……. can’t complaine about that. Also money issues.

  • Flobe24

    If Shaq is willing to take the minimum to be a Laker so he can retire as one I would love it. Shaq is part of Laker history.

  • http://swishtheball.net thelakerfuture

    shaq can’t really mentor drew, i mean he has a low basketball iq and he was just unstoppable because he was a 320 pound quickster

  • MILO

    [Comment ID #55165 Will Be Quoted Here]

    i dont know! maybe he just wants to retire here since this is where he won the most rings and played his best years! i think they will sing him just for 1 day to retire him a Laker…