- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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Mark Cuban just couldn't resist. Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson, two of his favorite sparring partners were at Staples Center Tuesday night, and well, he doesn't get to do this as much anymore.
"No one can handle it. It's different now," Cuban said. "Now in the Twitter era, going back and forth means 10000 people retweeting you and 8000 people retweeting them. It's just a different dynamic."
But Shaq and Phil have always been different. Not only could they handle Cuban's barbs, they seemed to enjoy the back and forth.
"He was a nice foil," Cuban said of O'Neal, who had his Lakers No. 34 jersey retired in a ceremony Tuesday night. " I think when he realized I wouldn't back down from him, that I'd come right back at him, then it got fun for both of us. And we've stayed friends. We're good friends now."
And Phil Jackson?
"Like Shaq, they're both part of what makes the NBA unique," Cuban said. "There's not a lot of personalities that really define themselves not just by their accomplishments on the court but by their wit and intelligence off the court. That's good for any entertainment business."
Tuesday night Cuban dialed up a fresh round of zingers for O'Neal and Jackson, who was on hand to introduce and honor the big man who led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-02.
"I have great respect for Phil, Jeanie's husband, as he'll from now on be known since Jeanie's still in the league," Cuban said, referring to Jackson's fiancee, Lakers executive Jeanie Buss.
"Someone's gotta be the first Housewife of the Lakers. I'm glad it's Phil."
Cuban spoke before the Lakers 101-81 win that basically knocked Dallas out of the playoff race. The Mavs are now 2 1/2 games back of the Lakers and Jazz for the eighth spot.
"Both teams have had injuries and issues," he said. "But you are what your record is so you've just got to deal with it."
5dAmin Elhassan and Baxter Holmes