The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
Shaq Offers To Pay For Kobe's Funeral
Originally posted 6/6/2005

Ah, happier times [sigh]
MIAMI - Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, who offered this week to pay for the funeral of former Minneapolis Lakers star George Mikan, followed up the generous gesture with an offer to pay for the funeral of former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. "If, you know, the need should arise," said O'Neal, "I'd be more than happy to foot the bill for Kobe's funeral. It would be a small price to pay, in fact."

The Mikan family, which had reportedly fallen on difficult financial times, accepted O'Neal's offer this weekend. O'Neal, 33, and Mikan, who died Wednesday night at the age of 80, were both dominant centers who led the Lakers franchise to multiple NBA titles, and the two became friends during O'Neal's tenure with the team.

Bryant and O'Neal, however, feuded constantly during their time as Lakers teammates, and many feel that it was Bryant who forced the Lakers to trade O'Neal to Miami last year. This season, the Lakers won only 34 games, good for a last-place tie in the Pacific Division, while O'Neal led the Heat to the verge of the NBA Finals.

When asked what he was trying to insinuate by offering to pay for a funeral for Bryant, who is 26 and in very good health, O'Neal replied, "I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying." O'Neal then asked if Bryant was enjoying watching O'Neal's Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade emerge as a beloved superstar during this year's playoffs.

"If Shaq wants to go around paying for people's funerals, that's his thing," Bryant said Sunday. "He can do his thing, I'll keep doing my thing. 'My thing' being 'leading my team to a 34-48 finish, three games behind the Clippers.'"

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