What becomes a rivalry most? KINON CRAWFORD III 47 North Hollywood Office clerk AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card All things come to an end. Good and bad. Jessica broke up with Nick. Martin said goodbye to Lewis. And Cain finished off Abel with a mighty thud. For the Lakers’ dynamic duo of Kobe and Shaq, their personal relationship ended two years ago, when Shaq packed his bags and moved to Florida. But their rivalry grew to epic proportions, fanned by the NBA’s P.R. machinery. However, judging from their most recent confrontation Monday night – in which the Lakers beat Miami 100 to 92 – that supposedly once-fiery enmity is no more. They haven’t quite become the politically neutral Switzerland of the hardwood, but they’re approaching it. Even Kobe, speaking on camera, labeled the contest as, “just another game.” No longer was it the War of the Roses. It was merely two good NBA teams battling it out. The rivalry ended with a rapprochement of sorts. On the urging of his coach, The Big Diplomat (aka, Shaq) took the giant step toward peace and normalization. He shook hands with Kobe, while Kobe was stretching during pre-game warm-ups. And then it became a veritable love-fest. The two captains met before tipoff. There was a mighty hug, followed by an exchange of pleasantries that would have made Martin Luther King, Jr. proud on his birthday. But NBA Commissioner David Stern and his marketing machine undoubtedly didn’t want the Kobe-Shaq rivalry to go out with a whimper. They wanted a bang. Because the bigger the bang, the bigger the bucks. You see, competition between two superstars is good for business. It’s a P.R. man’s delight. Easy to promote. Easy to fill seats. Easy to bring eyeballs to the screen. As stellar TV ratings in games between Lakers and the Heat over the last two years can attest. Viewers adore dramas, particularly personal ones, like Magic versus Bird. And the NBA had one, albeit less classy and less about the game, in Kobe and Shaq. Even Monday’s promising undercard between Lamar Odom and mouthy Gary Payton failed to materialize. Now the only hope David Stern and his P.R. suits have for a marketable rivalry is the one between 33-year-old Shaq and 18-year-old Andrew Bynum, who exchanged elbows – not hugs – during the game. Until then, peace and harmony reign between Kobe and Shaq. And TV audiences will instead have to satisfy themselves by watching reality shows, like NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!