O'Neal followed Russell's advice.
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. "We've been through so many wars together.
Now, just be able to move on, try to do the best for this team,
wish him the best in South Beach.
"I think it's good for the city of Los Angeles, good for the
NBA, good for the youth, being Martin Luther King Day."
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 tipoff as the fans at
the Staples Center voiced their approval.
"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 that I
should shake Kobe Bryant's hand and let bygones be bygones and bury
"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 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."
Lamar Odom had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the
Lakers (21-17), who won for the sixth time in seven games. Devean
George added 17 points and Chris Mihm had 10 points and six
rebounds before fouling out.
Dwyane Wade had 34 points and seven assists for Miami (23-16),
which had its four-game winning streak snapped. O'Neal had 18
points and 10 rebounds, Udonis Haslem had 13 points and 12 rebounds
before fouling out, and James Posey scored 11 points for the Heat.
The game was the fourth between the teams since the Lakers
traded O'Neal to Miami in July 2004. The Heat won the previous
three, including a 97-92 triumph on Christmas Day in Miami. O'Neal
and Bryant didn't acknowledge each other before or during that
The two spent eight tumultuous seasons with the Lakers, teaming
with current Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson to win three
championships. Jackson left the team a month before O'Neal did and
took last season off before being rehired in June.
The game also marked the return of Pat Riley to Los Angeles for
the first time since he returned as coach of the Heat last month.
Riley coached the Lakers to four championships in the 1980s.
Bryant made two free throws with 4:10 remaining to extend the
Lakers' lead to 90-81. But O'Neal scored the game's next five
points to draw the Heat within four points with 2:36 to play.
Miami cut it to three points on a basket by Wade with 1:56 left,
but that was as close as the Heat would get. Bryant and Wade
exchanged baskets before George made two free throws with 49.6
Odom's baseline jumper with 19.2 seconds to play as the shot
clock was running down and two free throws by George completed the
"This is definitely a win we can build off of," said Odom, who
came to the Lakers in the O'Neal trade. "That is a quality team.
We just have to keep it up and put games away."
O'Neal picked up his fourth foul with 7½ minutes left in the
third period, going to the bench with the Lakers leading 69-53.
Then, led by Wade and Haslem, the Heat went on a 22-10 run to
finish the third quarter and start the fourth, cutting the Lakers'
lead to four at 79-75.
Bryant returned to the game at that stage, and made two jumpers
and two free throws after being fouled by O'Neal to put the Lakers
ahead 85-77 with 6:48 to play.
The Lakers led 57-42 at halftime and by as many as 19 points
early in the third quarter.
The game completed a season-long seven-game road trip for
the Heat that began with a 15-point loss to New Orleans at Oklahoma
City. "The beginning was a disaster, an absolute disaster," Riley
said. After another one-sided loss at Phoenix, the Heat turned it
around, beating Portland, Golden State, Seattle and Utah by an
average of 16½ points. ... There were no apparent problems between
Odom and Miami's Gary Payton, who had to be separated following
last month's game in Miami after exchanging angry words. ... Lakers
F Brian Cook picked up two technical fouls in the third quarter,
calling for automatic ejection. He left with four points and four
personal fouls in 10 minutes. ... Riley also received a technical
in the third period. ... O'Neal and 18-year-old Lakers rookie
Andrew Bynum dunked on each other late in the first half before
exchanging elbows, resulting in a double-technical. Bryant quickly
got between the two.
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio's mother has died after a long battle with lung cancer.
Would David Fizdale be a good hire for the Grizzlies? Will the team keep free agent Mike Conley? Our crew forecasts the future for Memphis.
David Fizdale, an assistant with the Heat, has been offered the head-coaching job with the Grizzlies and the sides are working on a contract, according to ESPN and a report from The Vertical.