Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/3/13
LOS ANGELES -- As is the norm when Shaquille ONeal and Kobe Bryant are involved, ONeals jersey retirement ceremony was a mixture of happiness, celebration and oddity. Bringing back fond Lakers championship memories on Tuesday night at Staples Center, Shaq began his speech by yelling, Can you dig it?, which he did after the Lakers won their first three championships of the Phil Jackson Lakers era. He also thanked late L.A. owner Jerry Buss for expediting the jersey retirement, his mother and father and former GM Jerry West, who convinced Shaq to leave Orlando as a free agent. Shaq praised the Lakers fans even singling out superfanactor Jack Nicholson. Jackson, too, was given heartfelt kudos by his former MVP center. Yet in a bizarre move, not a word was mentioned by Shaq about Bryant during the on-court festivities, even though hed talked about Bryant and a few former teammates during a pregame news conference. Bryants participation or lack thereof in the ceremony may have been even stranger than ONeal not mentioning the other half of what he often referred to as The Dynamic Duo. Even though it was halftime, Bryant decided to stay in the locker room. He pre-taped a message to be played back to ONeal and the crowd a message nearly completely devoid of emotion, lasting under a minute. Amazing how time flies, said Kobe via the video boards throughout Staples Center. I send congratulations to you, the most gifted physical specimen Ive ever seen play this game. What you have.meant to this city has been absolutely historical. I know youve played for other organizations, but youll always truly be remembered as playing for just one here with the L.A. Lakers. Your number has been officially immortalized. Enjoy it.This is what I want everyone to kno thank u very muchEspecially you Kobeyoutu.beCzUNO_CKWKE SHAQ (@SHAQ) April 3, 2013 Jackson who received a rousing ovation and deafening roars of We want Phil, was appreciative of what ONeal meant to his team. I want to thank you for dedication, your leadership and the hard work you put in. There had been speculation that ONeal and Bryant might publicly end their years of animosity. It never happened, but theres always the chance it will happen at Bryants retirement party in a decade or so. Magic Johnson, however, is clearly a fan of what Shaq did for the Lakers. "Shaq has been one of the most dominant Lakers weve ever had, Johnson said on Monday at the Dodgers home opener. He and Wilt Chamberlain were centers with strength, agility and size. They couldnt be stopped. What Shaq did as a Laker, we hadnt seen done probably since Wilt (played). When Dr. Buss and Jerry West brought him here, paired him with Kobe and brought in Phil (Jackson), we won three in a row and just dominated the league. Shaq dominated the game with his abilities, and he dominated the city with his big personality. Im happy Shaq was able to wear the purple and gold, and represent this city and win championships. His jersey should go up, and I know hes excited by it.
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