The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
 
Several Dead, Thousands Left Homeless As Kobe/Shaq Feud Rages Across Southern California
Originally posted 11/3/2003

This map of southern California shows the extent of the damage
LOS ANGELES - President Bush declared a state of emergency in southern California this week as the blazing hot war of words between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal swept through the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Over a half-million acres of land were destroyed and residents of several southland neighborhoods had to be evacuated as crews worked tirelessly into the night to battle the conflagration that raged between the two Lakers superstars.

"We are doing the best that we can do right now," said California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. "President Bush has promised to help us out with the federal resources. We have received lots of help from lots of the neighboring teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors and these kinds of things. We have lots of volunteer public relations people that are working tirelessly and all of that to try to stop the spread of this terrible feud so that it doesn't affect anyone else in Cuh-lee-FOAH-nee-uh."

Last week, O'Neal told reporters that Bryant ought to change his style of play while he gets into shape and recovers from his off-season knee surgery. "As we start this new season, [stuff's] got to be done right," O'Neal said. "If you don't like it, then you can opt out next year. If it's going to be my team, I'll voice my opinion. If he don't like it, he can opt out."

Bryant fired back in a telephone interview with ESPN's Jim Gray. "I don't need Shaq's advice to play hurt," Bryant said. "I didn't miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn't that serious."

Bryant also said that O'Neal didn't contact him over the summer while Bryant was being charged with sexual assault of a 19-year-old Colorado woman. Sources close to O'Neal reported that he had, in fact, left two messages with Bryant that went unreturned. "No you didn't," Bryant fired back. "Did so," O'Neal said. "Nuh-uh," Bryant retorted. "Yuh-huh," insisted O'Neal.

It was at this point that the verbal barbs flared out of control and, thanks to weeks of hot, dry southern California weather and a tense Lakers climate due to Bryant's impending rape trial, began to engulf countless southland acres.

"We're doing the best we can to contain it," Lakers coach Phil Jackson told reporters. "Hopefully, we can get this thing extinguished by the end of the week."

"This is so sad," said Gregory Carmichael of Simi Valley, California, who lost his home as a result of the Bryant/O'Neal feud. "At least my family got out okay. But we've been Lakers fans for twenty years, so this has hit us really hard. I don't know what we're going to do now."

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