Reporting from Philadelphia — Maybe Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal will eventually look back on what could have been accomplished. For now, the weird, cautious chasm continues between two of the best in Lakers history.
Bryant passed O'Neal for fifth on the NBA's all-time scoring list Monday, and O'Neal was one of the first to send an opinion on Twitter.
"Congrats to Kobe for being the greatest laker ever," he wrote in a conciliatory tone. "Thanks for making us the greatest laker one two punch ever and congrats on passin me up 2."
Bryant took over the fifth spot on a long jump shot in the second quarter of the Lakers' 95-90 loss to Philadelphia. He now has 28,601 points, five more than O'Neal. Wilt Chamberlain is fourth with 31,419 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 38,387 points, most in NBA history.
Bryant and O'Neal are not friends. They do not socialize. Bryant laughed when asked whether he heard about O'Neal's Twitter dispatch.
"You're asking me if I saw his tweet?" he said. "I don't even know how that [Twitter] thing works."
When told exactly what O'Neal wrote, Bryant was thankful but careful with his words.
"Cool. I appreciate it," he said. "I'm sure Shaq and I will connect at some point and revisit history. We had some good times."
O'Neal and Bryant were the backbone of a three-championship run in the early 2000s but feuded openly. O'Neal was traded to Miami in 2004, ending what could have been an untold number of championship parades in downtown Los Angeles. O'Neal retired from basketball after last season.
Bryant said the obligatory things about continuing to move up the all-time list, saying he'd been "very, very fortunate" to have the career he's had. After further pressing, he revealed what mattered most.
"I just want No. 6, man," he said, referring to his five championship rings. "I'm not asking too much. Just get me a sixth one."
Kuester takes over
The Lakers played Philadelphia without Coach Mike Brown, who served a one-game suspension for bumping a referee and failing to leave the court in a timely manner after being ejected in Saturday's loss in Utah.
He was replaced Monday by assistant coach John Kuester, who was fired by the Detroit Pistons last June after a tumultuous season that included finger-pointing between Kuester and players.
"Mike has accepted the [NBA's] ruling and moved on," Kuester said. "One of the things that these guys recognize is he'll fight tooth and nail for them."
Bryant joked that the Lakers missed Brown, who was not allowed in the arena as per NBA rules.
"We're used to having Mike's voice kind of barking at us and stuff," Bryant said. "I'm sure he was barking at the television with a mouthful of cheese steak."