SAN DIEGO — Kobe Bryant has been criticized by Shaquille O'Neal and is a controversial central figure in Phil Jackson's soon-to-be-released, tell-all book. Now Seattle All-Star guard Ray Allen has a problem with him.
Allen, who went head to head with Bryant in the exhibition opener Tuesday in Anaheim, predicted Bryant would be self-centered this season and said the Laker star might request a trade if the Lakers are not successful within a year or two.
"He's going to be very selfish," Allen told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "And he feels like he needs to show this league and the people in this country that he is better without Shaq. [That] he can win championships without Shaq. So offensively, he's going to jump out and say, 'I can average 30 points. I can still carry the load on this team.'
"He has the talent, he can do it. But is his attitude going to allow him to take a back seat and let Lamar Odom shine and let Caron Butler have his nights and bring those big guys along with him?"
Bryant signed a seven-year, $136.4-million deal in July, but Allen predicted turbulence if the team struggles.
"If Kobe doesn't see he needs 2 1/2 good players to be a legitimate playoff contender or win a championship in about a year or two he'll be calling out to [owner] Jerry Buss that 'We need some help in here,' or 'Trade me,' " Allen said. "And we'll all be saying, 'I told you so,' when he says that."
Bryant has sidestepped O'Neal's attacks and laughed off Jackson's book by saying he'd rather read "The Lord of the Rings" in one sitting. But he said he looked forward to playing against Allen.
"He'll have to see me when we face each other this year," Bryant said. "Let people talk. I don't really care. He'll have to see me on that court, though."
The teams play again Oct. 25 in an exhibition game in San Diego. They play four times in the regular season.
Bryant scored 15 of the Lakers' first 20 points and finished with 35 points on 13-for-21 shooting in Tuesday's 87-80 Laker loss. Allen scored 25 points on 10-for-22 shooting and was unavailable for comment afterward because he was suffering from a migraine and an upset stomach. Allen's comments appeared in Thursday's editions of the Post-Intelligencer.
Allen and Bryant were both drafted in 1996, a main reason Allen thinks Bryant tries to turn their games into one-on-one battles. Allen has prevailed at times, but Bryant has maintained an overall edge.
On one play Tuesday, Allen stole the ball from Bryant near midcourt, but Bryant recovered in time to block Allen's shot on a breakaway. Bryant glared as Allen fell to the floor.
In another sequence, Bryant hit a three-point shot over Allen, and Allen answered with a three-pointer against Bryant. Bryant then made another three-pointer, bumped into Allen near midcourt and started talking.
"I think he talks because he feels like he has to talk," Allen said. "He's out there playing, and if he does something good, I feel like he needs to pat himself on the back because to me, it seems like he's isolated out there. As much as it's five on five, I don't see much camaraderie going on out there with his teammates."
After Tuesday's game, as the teams shook hands, Bryant approached Allen, smiled and briefly put his arm around him.
Meanwhile, O'Neal continued to lob verbal shots at Bryant from Miami.
While Bryant said he would not read Jackson's book, to be released next Thursday, O'Neal said he would find vindication in the book, which is often critical of Bryant.
"I'll just wait until Phil's book comes out, and then you guys will know the truth," O'Neal told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "But just keep in mind that everything I've said over the years has been true. When it all adds together ... I'll just sit back and laugh as I read it and say, 'I told you so.' "
Kareem Rush will sit out the next two games because of a chronic tendon injury in his right ankle. Rush aggravated the injury in Tuesday's game because he did not wear orthotics in a new pair of shoes.... The Lakers conclude training camp today at the University of San Diego.