Archive for Friday, December 17, 2004

Bryant plans to apologize to Shaq

December 17, 2004

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— Lakers guard Kobe Bryant wants to apologize to former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for mentioning his name during a police interview last year.

Bryant appeared on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" and "NBA Shootaround" on Wednesday and said he never meant to bring up O'Neal's name when he was being interrogated by police officers. The interview came after a woman accused Bryant of raping her.

"I would apologize for any harm that I brought him and his family," Bryant said of O'Neal.

The Heat will play the Lakers on Christmas Day, the first meeting of the two teams since O'Neal was traded. Bryant wants to speak to O'Neal then.

Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting the woman at a Colorado resort where she worked in June 2003. The Lakers guard maintained they had consensual sex.

Prosecutors dropped a sexual-assault charge against Bryant on Sept. 1 after the woman said she no longer wanted to participate in the criminal case. She had filed a civil suit against Bryant about three weeks earlier.

During Bryant's interview with investigators, he said he heard O'Neal had paid up to $1 million to various women to keep quiet about situations like his own. O'Neal, who now plays for the Miami Heat, dismissed those allegations as "ridiculous." There have been no published reports of O'Neal ever being accused of any sex crimes.

The former Lakers center was informed of Bryant's allegation last September, and the relationship between the two was strained throughout the 2003-04 season. After the season, O'Neal demanded to be traded.

"I never intended in any way to mix him into my troubles and difficulties that were going on at the time," Bryant said. "Things kind of got blown out of proportion and people really ran with that stuff. I just apologize to him for that."

Bryant said he had passed the word to O'Neal through a mutual friend that he would like to discuss the matter.

"December 25 sounds like a good day to me to kind of talk to him and tell him I never meant in any kind of way to bring any of his personal business out," Bryant said.

Bryant also answered questions about the recent spat with another former teammate, Karl Malone. Bryant has accused Malone, who is recovering from knee surgery, of making a pass at his wife at a game last month.

Malone's agent said last week that his client didn't plan to return to the Lakers because of comments Bryant made in a radio interview questioning Malone's intent in rejoining the team.

"To me it's water under the bridge," Bryant said Wednesday. "I just kind of want to move on from it. We just go our separate ways."

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