LOS ANGELES • Former Los Angeles Lakers team-mates and one-time bitter rivals Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant have buried the hatchet, during an online podcast in which both men addressed their long-running feud.
O'Neal and Bryant's tense relationship was a staple of National Basketball Association (NBA) talk during the Lakers' successful period of dominance from 2000 to 2004, when the team won three championships and lost a fourth.
O'Neal eventually moved to the Miami Heat in 2004 while Bryant remained at the Lakers, where he won two more NBA titles and continues to play as his career draws to a close.
In a lengthy discussion on O'Neal's "The Big Podcast with Shaq" on Monday, both men expressed regret at the way their bickering often spilled into public view.
"I just want people to know that I don't hate you, I know you don't hate me," O'Neal, 43, told Bryant on the podcast.
"I call it today a 'work beef', was what we had. I was young, you were young.
"But then as I look at it, we won three (championships) out of four so I don't really think a lot were done wrong.
"We had a lot of disagreements, we had a lot of arguments, but I think it fuelled us both."
Bryant, 37, said he wished the frequent rows with O'Neal could have been kept private.
"To me, the most important thing is to keep your mouth shut. There's no need to go to the press. You keep it internal," he said.
"Having our debates within the press was something I wished would have been avoided."
He also recalled an exchange where, as a 21-year-old then, he almost came to blows with the older and much bigger O'Neal.
"I realised that I probably had a couple of screws loose, because I nearly got into a fist-fight and I actually was willing to get into a fight with this man," Bryant said.
"I went home and I was like, 'Dude, I've either got to be the dumbest or the most courageous kid on the face of the Earth.' "
O'Neal said he had actually been left impressed by Bryant's nerve in standing up to him.
"That just showed me, 'You know what, this kid ain't going to back down to nobody,' " he said.