Much like Jim Buss, Shaquille O’Neal has faith that former teammate Kobe Bryant will be back on the court very soon. Shaq also seems to think the Los Angeles Lakers’ front-office will ensure the team is better than most people expect next season. Per the LA Times (via TWC Sportsnet): “I’m sure Kobe is going to come back early,’ said Shaquille O’Neal. ‘Anything before nine months is early. Him making the first game, I wish him well. He’s a very, very competitive kid. He loves the naysayers. He loves proving people wrong. When he put the rumor out there that he may be back the first game, best believe he’s trying to come back the first game,’ continued O’Neal. [...] O’Neal believes the Lakers will have a challenging season after losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets in free agency. ‘It’s gonna be tough,’ he said. ‘They were dealt a major blow this summer, but the Buss family (especially Jeanie Buss, especially Jimmy Buss) I’m sure they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.’ O’Neal was honored Friday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at the 13th annual Harold & Carole Pump Foundation Gala, a nonprofit organization dedicated to treating and curing cancer.”