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O'Neal Squashes Feud With Bryant

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Shaquille O'Neal got the word from Hall of Famer Bill Russell to make peace with Kobe Bryant . O'Neal followed Russell's advice before the Heat's 100-92 loss to the Lakers on Monday night.

Bryant said O'Neal first approached him while he was stretching before the game, and congratulated him on the birth of his daughter and the impending birth of a second child.

"It made me feel good," Bryant said, adding he was surprised at O'Neal's gesture.

After the initial contact, the longtime protagonists shook hands, embraced briefly and exchanged a few words at center court when the team captains and game officials met before the game. They exchanged another hug before the opening tip-off.

"I had orders from the great Bill Russell," O'Neal said. "Me and him were talking in Seattle the other day, and he was telling me how rivalries should be. I asked him if he ever disliked anybody he played against, and he told me, 'No, never,' and he told me that I should shake Kobe Bryant's hand and let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet.

"Today is a day of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King was an ambassador of peace. So when I talked to Mr. Russell, he told me he said that him and [ Wilt ] Chamberlain spoke once or twice a week before he passed away. And even though people thought they hated each other, there was nothing but love there."

ยท QUICK HITS: F Ronny Turiaf , a second-round draft pick of the Lakers last June, signed with the team yesterday, less than six months after having open-heart surgery.

Knicks G Stephon Marbury , who hasn't missed a game because of injury in five years, is doubtful for today's game at Chicago because of a sprained left shoulder. . . . Mavericks F Keith Van Horn has a sprained left ankle and was listed as doubtful for today's game at Houston. . . .

The 76ers hired former player Henry Bibby as an assistant on Maurice Cheeks 's coaching staff, replacing Jim Lynam , who is on leave for the rest of the season because of undisclosed health reasons.

-- From News Services

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