Phil Jackson doesn't watch much television. No all-Zen channel yet. He also doesn't watch much basketball. And on Christmas he will be at a big family get-together.
But the former Los Angeles Lakers coach concedes he may slip away from the beach today to take a peek at just what Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant have in mind for one another when the former teammates - and, oh, yeah, their respective teams - meet for the first time since the Lakers traded O'Neal to the Heat.It might be the day the basketball world stood still.
"That's going to be interesting to see what Shaq does when Kobe tries to go to him more than anything else," Jackson said. "How is he going to defend the post if Kobe wants to drive it? Kobe likes to go in there and take contact. It will be interesting to see how that goes.
"I think the fans are going to try to rally around Kobe to (get) a win," Jackson said. "But it will be as emotional for Shaq. He'll come into town and give away thousands of dollars worth of gifts to inner-city kids, like he always does. He likes to play Santa Claus. So he'll be emotional by the time the game rolls around. He could have a great first quarter, first half. There's going to be a tremendous amount of energy in that building."
So much that Jackson might even have uncrossed his legs if he were coaching.
Yes, it could be that big.
With all the annoying hype the past two weeks - O'Neal and Bryant contributing dueling interviews, players being asked constantly about the game, TV previews - it still figures to be the biggest game of the NBA regular season, the most anticipated since one of Michael Jordan's returns.
O'Neal is depicted as the good guy in all this, but he shares responsibility in the breakup plot.
O'Neal seems more hurt than angry. He is hurt the Lakers chose Bryant and catered to him constantly, while O'Neal believes he was the one responsible for the championships that returned the Lakers to greatness. Hard, really, to argue with that.
Make no mistake, though, there long has been a feud. It was the paradox. Bryant worked at basketball much harder, the hard worker coaches admire. O'Neal worked at life and fun much harder, frustrating coaches with his frequent absences and his casual preparation.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who considers himself the financial street person among NBA ownership, decided to choose frugality and entertainment. Bryant never can earn as much as O'Neal because of the timing of league's labor agreement-and Bryant is in more highlights. O'Neal mainly dunks.
Bryant will dazzle the crowd. O'Neal spends the regular season getting in shape before dominating in the playoffs.
Bryant plays all season long, which sells tickets. Anyone can sell tickets once you're in the playoffs.
The Heat will be there this season, and perhaps a long way into it with the Pacers and Pistons stumbling since the brawl. The general feeling is it's a two- to three-year window for Miami with O'Neal.
Bryant is 26. That's a 10-year window. The Lakers, 14-11 and no playoff cinch, decided to take two seasons off and then hope someone will come to play with Bryant.
"I'm the piece of every puzzle," O'Neal says. "I'm happy that I'm going to end my career playing for a respectable GM and owner."
It might be more interesting to see Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak come down the lane against him.
"I've never been the type to back down from anything on that basketball court. He knows that," Bryant said when asked about O'Neal's veiled threat to run him down.
"I don't have to outdo him," O'Neal said. "I'm Shaq! I'm like toilet paper, Pampers and toothpaste. I'm proven."