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Shaq-Kobe feud escalates with allegation of O'Neal hush money

Separating Kobe Bryantand Shaquille O'Neal on different teams on different coasts has done nothing to lessen the animosity between the one-time Laker teammates. If anything, the feud is escalating.

On Wednesday, O'Neal dismissed as "ridiculous" Bryant's allegations that O'Neal had paid up to $1-million in hush money to various women and then took his own shot by saying, "I'm not the one buying love."

O'Neal made the remark over the telephone to a staffer at ESPN, the network said, after the Los Angeles Times quoted a police report as saying Bryant told detectives in Eagle, Colo., "he should have done what Shaq does that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything" and already had paid up to $1-million "for situations like this."

The statement came near the end of a lengthy interrogation about a hotel employee's complaint that Bryant raped her.

Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Bryant earlier this month at the accuser's request, but the woman has filed a federal civil suit against him in Denver, seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering since the case began.

Meanwhile in Denver, a judge cleared the way for the release of documents and other evidence in Bryant's sexual assault case as early as next week. Workers in the Eagle County Sheriff's Department were poring over some of the records, removing the name of the accuser and information that would be illegal to make public, such as mental health records.


Teen dazzles in Man U debut

Wayne Rooney, 18, became the first Red Devils player in nearly a century to score a hat trick in his debut. With three goals _ left foot, right foot, free kick, all from outside the penalty area _ the stocky striker secured his place in Man U folklore Tuesday night and made huge steps toward proving he's worth the $54.2-million the Red Devils paid to wrest him from Everton over the summer. "Maybe he will become the player of the century," Fenerbahce coach Christoph Daum said.