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Shaq's Low Point


I realize this post comes a few days after the fact, which risks making it feel like old news. I Shaquilleoneal_ir0clwkn_1 purposely waited to post it, though, because I wanted to wait and see if any reports surfaced that would change my opinion of things. Any explanation as to circumstances, motivations, worthwhile prior engagements, etc., that somehow made the situation more palatable. Didn’t happen. Thus I’m laying it all out. 72 hours “late,” more or less, but better late than never, in my mind.

Let me start things out by saying, I’m not an Kobe apologist. Nor am I a Shaq “hater” (as previously stated, I find the “hate” concept perplexing in and of itself). When it comes to choosing “sides” over their epic tiff, I choose “both.” It’s no cop out. I’d simply be missing the boat if I let either off the hook. At various points during their soap opera while (sort of) co-existing as teammates, they both richly deserved each other's scorn. They had eight years, the same amount of time it took me to finish high school and college, to make a relationship that was actually working simply palatable… and couldn’t. Sorry, but that’s beyond ridiculous. By the end of their time together, it didn’t matter if I was thinking as a Lakers fan, a basketball fan, an NBA fan, a sports fan or just a fan sick of watching dudes like Horry, Fox, Fish, Shaw, Harp or George do the dirty work so these two could fight over the glory; Part of me hoped that Kupchak would not only trade Shaq, but let Kobe walk and use the cap room to start fresh. The two of them provided some of the best basketball memories I’ll ever have, but by the end of the 2004 Finals, I was pretty effin’ sick of both guys.

My point? I have no “allegiance” to either Shaq or Kobe. Neither earned it.


Having spouted all that, I felt myself edging ever so slightly towards Kobe’s side as I sat in Staples last Sunday during the Bobcats game and watched Shaq waltz in halfway through the second quarter, drink in a standing ovation to the Superman theme, then jet out during halftime. Seriously, what the hell was he doing there? I know he was in town for a game on Monday. But seriously… what the hell was he doing there?

The fact that he didn’t stick around for the entire game struck me as quite fishy. If he had sat through the entire game, then walked to the bench, and caught up with Phil, B. Shaw, George, Luke, etc., I might have shrugged it off. I still would have found it more than a little odd, given how dead set he seems on trashing the Lakers at every possible opportunity (even labeling L.A. “fake,” which is a joke, considering L.A. actually is as superficial as advertised and Miami may be the only place on the planet that makes it look deep.). Were I Shaq, I’d find it awkward just stepping inside Staples, even just to play the Clippers. I don’t know how easily I’d sit through a Kings game, frankly. But Shaq may feel like, “You know what? I busted my butt to bring this team three titles and if they have a problem with me sitting here watching a game, screw ‘em!” And I might buy it. That rationale just might hold water… had Shaq stuck around for the entire game. Once he was nowhere to be found at the beginning of that third quarter, all bets were off.

Please note: Like I said, I waited a couple days to see if Shaq actually had a good reason for his flyby move. Like he gave his seats to a couple in the nose bleed section… so he could visit a children’s hospital… and read to them… while donating a kidney… that he removed himself using only one hand… since the other hand was busy ladling soup to the homeless (That the homeless are hanging at the hospital when they should be at a shelter did sound odd at first, but Shaq arranged this entire bit of do-goodism on a cell phone that could only get reception from his courtside seat at the Staples Center on that particular night. Weird, but true).

Obviously, that entire series of events need not have taken place for Shaq to justify himself. But the point is, he needed a pretty good reason for making this a cameo. Otherwise, he comes off like a guy who can’t let a feud go and will take any opportunity to remind his old nemesis via the applause meter that his old city still loves him, maybe even more so than said nemesis. I can’t think of any other explanation. Why else would you make sure to show up with the game well under way, guaranteeing a big ol’ stir? Why else wouldn’t you hang around for the second half, unless you want people to notice you left and talk about it?

All I can say is that the big Fella better never say another bad thing about the Lakers ever again. I think he had a legit gripe about how he was treated on his way out, even though I think Buss made the right choice in Kobe over Shaq (he simply bricked the execution). And if spouting off about it 24/7, even now, somehow makes Shaq feel better about it, who am I to stand in the way of therapy? But he can't have it both ways. It's beyond hypocritical to use the organization as a whipping boy 364 days of the year, then turn around on the 365th and ask them to provide a major ego stroke. Sorry. Not having it. I imagine this whole ordeal put the Lakers in a very awkward position. If they don’t acknowledge Shaq’s presence, they come off unappreciative of his time here. And by acknowledging it, the ensuing applause risks making them look like bigger jackasses for trading The Diesel, especially during a struggle against the Bobcats. In the end, I think the Lakers made the classier choice. Which is more than I can say about O'Neal.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think Shaq is a great guy, all in all. He does ridiculous amounts of charity work and I’ve witnessed his interaction with kids firsthand. It's genuine. He also may very well be a better teammate than Kobe. That many stories about everyone and their mother having trouble with #8 can’t all be the result of one big mass media conspiracy. Like I said in the beginning, this wasn’t written as a rallying cry for Kobe. He’s dug his hole with Lakers fans and the press. It’s his own job to climb out of it. But there’s definitely a side of Shaq that’s incredibly thin skinned and continues to take this feud very personally, whereas Kobe appears more than over it. Granted, Kobe has bigger things to worry about at the moment than a relationship long since dead. But outside of a few occasions, like when he and the Big Fella began the 2003-2004 season by trading insults, this entire mess never seemed as personal to Kobe in the first place.

And I’ll say this much about Bryant. He’ll always be accused of hogging the rock on the court, but he’ll never be accused of hogging the spotlight off it. You’ll never catch him just popping by a Heat game during a night off (Yes, I realize it’s a bad example, since he’d just get booed, but you know what I mean). That’s bush league stuff, and too blatantly and unnecessarily attention grabbing for what strikes me as Kobe’s taste. For lack of a better phrase, he’s above it.

Again, Shaq may very well be a better teammate than Kobe. But the jury is still out as to whether he’s the more mature one.

AK

(photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/AP)

 
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I agree during the 2004 Finals both of them irked me as well. Shaq for not being able to really be effective without 2 days rest, but still demanding the rock. He wasn't playing much defense and was getting out rebounded by Ben Wallace. Kobe figured they were toast after Malone went down, so he started to exhibit his current style of shot selection and frequency. At least they had each other to blame for the team's collective failures.

Everything you said about Shaq is true. Shaq has a great personality and probably is a great teammate to have, but I don't think that means Kobe is a bad teammate. I see him on the floor pulling his guys aside to tell them what they did wrong on a play, and I see him pat them on the butt when they make a good play. I just think Kobe is from the Michael Jordan mold of leader-yell at you till you get it right because he expects from you what he expects from himself...greatness.

Good piece AK. I agree with your assessment 100%.

I have to believe that somewhere deep down, Shaq regrets the way things worked out. Why else would he seemingly be unable to get over it? Of course, I don't think Miami is currently favored in the East, much less in the Finals. A fact which I am sure weighs on Shaq (no pun intended), even if he says it's nothing to worry about.

J-

I couldn't agree more with AK. Trading Shaq was absolutely the right option - unless he agreed to renegotiating his salary demands. Even with that happening, I'm not too sure the current Heat squad have what it takes to win it all.
And yes, we should have got more back from Miami for the trade - we should have called Miami's bluff on not wanting to trade D-Wade. Think of what might have been...

Nice, AK.

Shaq's great, but he is a baby. How such a wealthy, huge, talented, funny, popular and nigh-intelligent man can be so chronically insecure at times I'll never understand.

Still, I'm thankful for his years here in Los Angeles, even if we all know he did play a major role in not making them as good as they could (and should) have been.

I can't agree with you more. Shaq is coming off like any ex who was the dumpee and still badmouthing the dumper years after he should have turned the page. Outgoing, gregarious players like Shaq will usually make better teamates than introverted types like Kobe. I'm sure Kobe's drive for greatness also puts some people off. It can't be he is just a ballhog, they are a dime a dozen in the Association. All that being said, it certainly appears that Shaq can't let go, going a a long way to judge who is more mature.

I'm with ya on this one. What was the point of showing up for 15 min? And I agree, Shaq seems like an affable guy. He's one of the most quotable players in the league. But he can be SO petty. When he was with the Lakers, I kept waiting for him to say "This is OUR team" when asked about whose team it was. That would have been real leadership. He was supposed to be the Big Brother. Yes, Kobe could have said it too, but it would have meant so much more for Shaq to have shown humility from his position of power. Even if it wasn't true, don't you think Kobe would have responded to that appreciatively? It just shows a lack of maturity that I think we should have expected from a big brother. Now we see that Kobe, even though he always said the right things, is only now beginning to grow into that maturity. In a way, it's good for him that he knows what it feels like to be under appreciated by the team leader.

Kobe may be a ball hog, but the fat man is definitely a glory hog with a grudge. Why else would he stroll into Staples? It wasn't just for the big ego stroke. It was a dig at Kobe and the Lakers. I doubt that he'll ever get over it. Kobe's been to the edge and knows he's lucky to be walking the streets. The Shaq thing must seem pretty irrelevant after that.

I've been a Laker fan since they sent Junior Bridgeman to Milwaukee for Kareem in '75. Been in Denver for the past ten years, but I still bleed purple and gold.

Thanks for putting my productivity in the tank. I'm addicted to this bog!

Perfectly said. And let it be known that Shaq did not receive all applause. Let's just say the fans that aren't courtside weren't as pleased to see him there. And no, they weren't yelling, "Luuuuuuuuuuke"

Perhaps even more pathetic was the LA Times Sports section story that covered that night's Lakers game, ahem, eventually covered it. The headline and entire front page (of the sports section) portion of the story was about Shaq . . . had to go to the jump page to read about the game (sigh). Oh well. Shaq's a funny guy (funny strange, not funny-haha, although he's funny that way too, admittedly).

I think the past 2 years have revealed what Shaq is really about. He plays to soak in the glory. He wants to win championships and be liked by his teammates so he can bask in everyone's adoration. Even if he has to fake it. Sure he makes a lot of charitable donations, is great with kids and liked by teammates but his motivation is shallow. He can't let go of the fact that he was traded because he knows deep down that the Lakers organization chose Kobe over him. For Shaq, it boils down to his ego being hurt.

Kobe on the other hand is mainly about winning. whatever it takes! if he needs to shoot 30+ shots a game to do it then he'll do it. He wants to win because as an athlete, winning is the only thing recorded in the history books to prove your success. He doesn't care about fan adoration. He's not out joking with the media and partying with all his teammates. Instead, he's in the weight room working out and getting ready so he'll be ready for the next game.

I think the other athlete out there who most resembles Kobe's dedication is Tiger Woods. Tiger has so much money he can retire already. but he keeps playing because he wants to win. Because he wants to prove to himself that he is the best for as long as he can. Apply that same attitude to Kobe and you'll understand where he's coming from.

the reason Shaq never said this is OUR TEAM because he always felt like it was really KOBES TEAM!

When it comes down to it, on a personal level, when his team needs him, Shaq goes to the Shake 'n Steak and eats 12,000 calorie meals during the offseason

When Kobe's team needs him, he's up at 5AM every morning working his ass off.

Work ethic says a lot about a person.

Not everyone can be blessed with 7' 1" height, extraordinary stature, quickness, and agility.

A person's genetics say nothing about their (spiritual) heart.

To an extent, a person's work ethic does.

I don't hate Shaq. I like him, but I really hate so-called fans going after Kobe. It just doesn't seem right.

Nice blog, AK.
Too bad SamSinister beat me to it, but I thought MB had better angles to lead with than Shaq's cameo. Shaq's actions are transparent and sophomoric. It's lousy that the Times chose to stroke his ego with that "Daddy" header and lede.

And yes, I loved the man for what he did for the Lakers in the past but you can definitely call me a "Shaq Hater."

and...
how about three in a row, eh!

The Laker organization has always been successful contengent on having the BEST BigMan in the game at the Center position. From the beginning of the organization with George Mikin at center to Wilt Chamberlain at center to Kareem to Shaq. The Lakers have ALWAYS won championships with a quality BigMan in the middle.

NBA Basketball is a BigMan's game there is no arguing that point, and for a team to be successful there must be a quality BigMan to feed in the middle. A Quality Center to get the easy baskets, block shots and intimidate the opposing team from attempting easy shots.

Kupchak and the Laker organization made a bad trade in trading Shaq who was the nucleous of the team in the middle. Kobe Bryant is a 'good' player, however there is only ONE Michael Jordan, and Kobe is definately not him. Kobe is doing a poor impression of a Michael Jordan and not playing to the teams strengths. There are plenty of 6'6" guard/forwards in the league the Lakers could have got, but there are very few quality BigMen for the Center position.

Jordan was blessed to come along during a time when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were at the top of their games. Both were into the 'team concept' of winning in playing NBA Basketball. Jordan with his great athleticism also used the team concept of winning that Magic and Bird used to garner championships for their respective teams.

Magic incorporated into his game some of the moves that the past greats used to make his team better. Magic used the full court 360 spins of Earl the Pearl Monroe, the set-shot of Oscar Robertson, the finger-roll of The IceMan George Gervin and even the 'Baby SkyHook' of Kareem to make the Lakers winners.

When Jordan incorporated the skills he saw in the games of Magic and Bird that made them both winners, he not finally won championship but also made himself along with his teammates a one of the most feared TEAMS in the NBA.

Those that harp about Kobe 'TRUSTING' his teammates is a comment that is totally out of line. Kobe's teammates are PAID PROFESSIONAL NBA Basketball Players, they get PAID to make shots, rebound and pass the basketball. It is not a pickup league where there is an issue of TRUSTING/NOT TRUSTING the teammates to win. Kobe needs to PASS THE DAYUMM BALL!!! Basketball is a TEAM game not an individual sport.

The Laker organization NEEDS to consider pulling out ALL STOPS in trading Kobe Bryant for LeBron James, who is a player in the Magic Johnson mold, with the athleticism of a Michael Jordan. LeBron in a Laker uniform can bring back the thrills, the excitement and the memories of Showtime past to Lakerland fans.

My question to Steven and all those clamoring for a Kobe/LeBron trade: You've made your point as to why the Lakers should do it. But why on earth would the Cavs pull the trigger? Give at least some reason. Otherwise, nobody will take it seriously.

Thanks for the enthusiasm and comments.

AK

I have to agree. At least one could never question Kobe's drive to be the best/ have the Lakers be the best. Shaq's work ethic and overall pettiness couldn't help.

I can't help feeling Phil screwed Kobe by openly picking Shaq's side during the feuds. Let's face it, the ballhog Kobe comments were reinforced by Phil, who seemed to completely forgive Shaq's laziness; nobody cribs when Allen Iverson takes 30 shots at a worse percentage than Kobe.

And given Shaq's increasing tendency to disappear from games, apart from longer injury breaks, looks like the Lakers chose well. I love what he did for the Lakers, and I think he's a good, goofy guy, but far too petty.

ughhhhh the word "shaq" shouldnt even be spoken in LA. the guy gave some good years in LA, but how can he say he had his "best" 8 years in LA and then go and rip the city, Los Angeleans! and call LA fake. ive always kept my shaq comments inside because he was still a laker, but now that he's gone. he is public enemy no.1 on my list. i would much rather watch san antonio or detroit win the title than miami. i HATE san antonio with a passion. but i have grown to hate shaq even more. its too bad wade will be stuck with shaq. i wonder how long it takes before wade realizes HE is the face of the franchise and not shaq. i wonder when shaq will realize wade knows hes the franchise and pull a penny/kobe on dwayne. does all of this look too familiar? penny was 1st team all-nba. he had lil penny riding with him in comercials. penny hardaway was getting ALL the love. then shaq got jealous and came to LA. talked trash about orlando calling himself a big fish in a little pond. i guess its not so bad anymore, since he's moved back to his little pond, right? same thing happens in LA. kobe willingly took a back seat to shaq during the 3-peat. but 2 years ago, they should have switched roles with kobe being the man and shaq playing 2nd fiddle. how can shaq demand the ball when everyone knows the 4th quarter belongs to kobe. everyone knows shaq will never play 2nd fiddle to anyone. i cant wait to see when shaq turns on flash. playing with shaq on your team is like having a glass ceiling on your game.

as far as shaq coming in and sitting courtside....

....it was ridiculous how staples center played the superman song. the song, people giving him a standing ovation, him acknowedging it as if he deserved it--it makes me SICK! how can you, as lakerfans turn your attention from the actual game in progress, and give a standing ovation to a former player who abandoned your city. who called your city fake. did anyone even care the lakers were playing the bobcats? that was pretty sad....

can you tell that im not a shaq fan anymore?

Wow, am I glad to see many fans who feel the same way as I do about Shaq. As a Laker fan, yeah, Shaq brought titles to LA, and made the Lakers one of the best teams in NBA history during their threepeat. I'm well appreciative of that as I enjoyed the Lakers' threepeat dynasty. But the Lakers could have won MORE titles if Shaq worked just a lil bit harder and stop taking petty shots at Kobe. During their time together, Kobe has stayed quiet when Shaq took shots at him. Imagine how bad awful if would be if Kobe had the same attitude as Shaq? They probably wouldn't even win one title. Kobe has by FAR been the bigger man during their time together.

The LA Times should be hated for feeding this "Shaq comin back to Staples Centre" thing. If they want to write an article about that, at least write a "Hate" article about Shaq. I could picture Shaq's petty smile when he sees he made the headlines when he read the LA Times. The crowd in Staples should be blame as well. Ok, you shouldn't be boo-ing Shaq cos he did bring titles to LA and should be respected. But NOT a standing ovation and the his "theme" song. Remember, he doesn't care about LA anymore. Why should you be cheering him?

Don't you just feel for D-Wade?

Shaq is a complete joke! I loved him when he was with our team and playing well and in shape. I hated him when he took plays off, came to 'work' way out of shape too often, botched every possible free throw,
was injury-prone and DID NOT make the time with Malone and Payton pay-off. He is over-rated today
and I think it is highly offensive to have saluted him during the game and for the Times to cover his appearance. It will not be long before Dwyane Wade realizes what Kobe and Penny already know - the Diesel is has a few flat tires!

Steven,

Let me say this first, you say that Kobe is no Jordan. You are correct, he is Kobe. He himself has never stated that he is just like Mike. He does have some things that are similar, but it is the press and peolpe like you that compare him. Jordan never had a great center, Jordan put up ALOT of shots as well. Everybody only remembers the great things about Jordan. He is human and made mistakes. Just like Kobe does now. Get over it already. Kobe is one of the Best in the league (if not the best.)

Shaq is a has-been, he is past his prime and like a little kid that needs to know that he is wanted. If not then he moves on. Orlando, L.A., next Miami. If he does not feel the love, he is gone. If he is not the most talked about person, he is gone. He is the class clown in school that needs the attention, and does retarded things to get it. I am waiting for him to wear underwear on his head, just to get attention.He always said (you have to feed the big dog) how many points is averaging now?

I liked Shaq when he was here. Now he has moved on and bad mouthed L.A., just like Orlando. How can "true fans" support a person like that. I hate San Antonio, but I admire Horry. Same with Fish...

Why can't the Big Diesel Dog Lard Azz no free throw hittin just reach and touch the rim low low, just get over it.

Did Superman ever whine? He is the diesel because his gut is as big as a truck.


By the way the intial comments by AK and this blog are freakin fantastic.

Lefty,

You may be right. We'll have to see with his career in Miami, but you may very well be right.

Hey, I'm sure all of you remember Shaq's response to criticism about his free throws: "I make then when I've got to make them." What the hell is that supposed to mean? You're supposed to make every free throw. Fricken idiot.

AK pegged everything I have been saying for the last 5 years about Shaq. And even though he does a lot of charity work, he makes sure that everyone knows about it so that he can get more praise for that!! Not cool. I do think Kobe could have handled things better when they played together. Be like a wife: let the public think that your man is in charge but inside the house, they both know who runs things.

I LOVE THIS BLOG!!! And as a Laker fan I'm happy you guys "get" the whole "Return of the King" move Shaq pulled!!! He's the biggest phony in the history of the NBA & I'm sick of everybody giving him props because he's charitable! If you really want to make an impact on the unfortunate do it without an entire camera crew taping it & airing on the local news & pre game show of last years Christmas game!!! Shaq has always desired the "love" above all else!!! And if you knowledgable basketball fans don't see that this years Heat are eerily similar to our GP-Malone squad, then wake up!!! They can't win with malcontents like Walker & Williams!!! MDE? Please stop it!!! This is a franchise guy who's offseason workout consists of lifting a hot dogs, burgers & french fries. Please tell me how Shaq's game has improved over the years? Please tell me how Shaq's free throws have improved over the years? Please tell me why nobody ever mentioned how Ben Wallace completely schooled, disgraced, son-ed Shaq in the Finals & last years Eastern Conference Finals?!?!?! Yes, Shaq gave us three titles!! I enjoyed every run we made & the celebrations that followed but Shaq was here for more than three seasons!! The MDE should be able to give us a championship every year right?! Swept by Utah & Greg Foster! Whupped on by the Fundamental & his band of Europeans!! Stretched to seven games by the never won anything brilliance of Chris Webber & the Kings!! The annual threats to Dr. Buss every summer that he may be leaving! Is that what the Laker fans were applauding the other night? Lets call a spade a spade & an undiscplined fat boy an undisciplined fat boy!!!

Kobe, I pray this Christmas you get what you & every "real" Laker fan wants....for you to get your Yao Ming-disrespectful-bash pon face-lead story Sportcenter DUNK on his doofy azz!!

I'll be honest with everyone. i've actually tried to catch a few miami heat games this year. well except for the first 2 before shaq got injured. dwayne wade is exciting to watch and is a good player. i feel bad for him that he's being fed a bunch of crap by shaq. of course, i'll stop watching their games when shaq is playing again. but i'll be sure to tivo the xmas day game and play it over and over after the lakers beat them!

Regardless of O'neal's pettiness, I think the first step the Lakers need to take to become contenders again is to trade Kobe.

It seems he can't be a team player. It's not in him. He may, at times, be unselfish with the ball, but he'll always revert back to his "I-in-team" play.

It's been ten years since he's entered the league. It's not going to change.

Newsflash: The Lakers trade Kobe Bryant and a first-round draft pick for Chauncy Billips and Rasheed Wallace.

Wouldn't that be nice.

Shaq is a smart person, he just want to take money and run. Dr Buss is a great owner, he gave Shaq an extension after Shaq win his first ring with Laker.Michael Jordan ,Phil Jackson, Pippens did not make good money with Chicago Bulls, Magic Johnson got title and minority ownership with Lakers, Jordan got nothing from Chicago Bulls. I don't like Shaq when he said bad thing about Lakers organization. Dr Buss hired Phil Jackson not Jerry West, and Shaq got benefits from this smart decision, Shag betrayed Dr Buss and Lakers fan, we should forget Shaq like he does to us.

I agree totally about Shaq. I'm Kobe's biggest fan and I admit he does shoot too much sometimes, well alot of the times, but he is still young and in all fairness, guys just didn't seem to hit shots that other teams hit routinely on us nite in and nite out so I kinda understood to some extent to what Kobe was doing. Kobe gets bashed so much by the media and ESPN especially, and Shaq, that people have just formed this opinion of him without truly knowing him. Shaq doesn't understand Kobe and neither does the media because 98% of big star athletes have big profiles, entourages, and are typically party animals like our boy Shaq. While they're out every night and I know because I live in Atlanta and every year Shaq and the Lakers visited, Shaq had a party the night before at one of our many clubs and we always lost the next night to the sorry azz hawks because shaq was fatigued from partying the night before. I was there, Shaq was there, but Kobe wasn't there. You see he had to watch some game film on the Hawks last 20 games and the previous 10 meetings he had had with hawks and how they proposed to attack his team. Now that Shaq plays for the Heat, I've been to 3 parties he has thrown. Now that they are in the same division, the party is on. I also noticed Kobe isn't at all interested in buying the love of his teammates and fans like Shaq. Kobe does alot of charitable work also, he just doesn't hold a press confrence to announce it. The bottom line in LA is that I blame Both guys. But Shaq being older should have been the bigger man and said our team. I don't really think Kobe had a problem with who's team it was. But he's like me and any other person who takes pride in what they do, you can lead me, but lead by EXAMPLE. That was truly the problem that Kobe had with Shaq. If Shaq would have just joined Kobe in some of his off season workouts that start just days after the season, Kobe would have respected Shaq more than ever and none of this mess never would have happened. And i'm sure we would have at least 5 rings from them instead of just 3. Hell, we would still be winning now. But its ok, I trust Kobe and I trust our owner. We are gonna win more games and get farther in the playoffs, barring injury, this year, watch and see. Kobe is a TRUE LEADER!! We are the lucky ones!!

I appreciate what Shaq did for the Lakers. The Lakers run was something I'll never forget.

Shaq obviously still holds a grudge, even though he demanded a trade (which the national media never mentions). So why the sour grapes? Shaq wanted out, and the Lakers obliged.

The Lakers biggest error was not having the courage to trade him to a Western Conference team. The Lakers pretty much traded Shaq for Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown. Not a good deal at all. The deal should have been Shaq to Dallas for Steve Nash and a draft pick. Yeah that Steve Nash guy ain't too bad, is he?

Kobe re-signed. He didn't have to, but he did.

Anyhow, enough living in the past.

As Laker fans, we have to deal with the "now." Hating and debating about Shaq gets the current Lakers nowhere.

Lakers MUST sign Chris Bosh in the summer. No post presence has been their achille's heel the past two seasons.

Shaq has done alot for the city of LA and the Fans why can't he go to the Staples center for a little visit...who cares ! Fact is the NBA loves the Drama & it looks like it sparked the Buss's to keep on winning. Your right I don't think 8 would go to a Heat game (he never played in Miami) in fact last I heard he doesn't like hanging around his own team let alone someone elses. Kobe wanted badly to be a Clipper he almost cried when re-joined the Buss's if it were not for Jerry West's call to Kobe. Shaq is a clown and his animation in the city is appreaciated with no Jerry West finding good players and Chick Hearns calls why not a little Shaq attack.

SHAQ NEVER GOT ALONG WITH ANYBODY WHO WAS JUST AS GOOD AS HIM(PENNY,KOBE). WADE IS GREAT AND YOUNG AND HE KNOWS THAT NOT BEING SHAQ'S FRIEND IS THE QUICKEST WAY IN THE HEADLINES. SO HE PLAYS HIS ROLE AND KEEPS QUIET. BUT JUST WATCH, WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD FINDS OUT HE MAY BE THE "BEST" PLAYER IN THE NBA, HOW LONG WILL THE LOVE AFFAIR LAST. BY THE WAY, WHO BEAT SAN ANTONIO, SAC, INDY AND PORTLAND ALL THOSE CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS ALMOST BY THEM SELVES,WHILE FAT-BOY WAS ALWAYS A STEP SLOW.FINALS DONT COUNT NO CENTERS IN THE EAST AT THE TIME.

I'm new to the laker blog but love it because it gives real fans a place to express what they feel after watching the games. Just to chime in on the Shaq/Kobe thing. I'm a long time laker fan and a fan of the NBA in general. Shaq is always portraying himself as the team leader. The truth is he has not led any team anywhere. Case in point. He was with a fantastic team in Orlando and could not lead them to a championship. So give him an excuse and say he was young then. Don't forget about how he could not get along with a fantastic player "Penny Hardaway" because of jealousy. He came to the lakers and did not lead them anywhere til Jerry West had a vision and traded a 7 foot center "Divac" for an 18 year kid which turned out to be the move along with bringing in a good coach to bring championships back to LA. Shaq cannot make plays for anyone but need others to make plays for him, "the Kobe lob pass to him against Portland in game 7 for instance". Shaq is the blame for him not being in LA and should only be bitter at himself. He thought he could make demands on Jerry Buss and like T.O. found out otherwise. Shaq now plays for Miami but still likes to dip his nose into what is going on in LA and still have to take every opportunity to berate Kobe. "Shaq" grow up!!. You are in Miami now and still not the leader of the team, Duane Wade is. Wade is doing the same thing for Miami that Kobe does for LA. Its only a matter of time before Shaq will be jealous of Wade. At any rate Shaq has been a PART of 3 championships, "not the leader", and won't lead Miami to a championship, Not if Detroit has anything to say about it.... OUT

shaq will never get over it because he loved l.a so much. he loved his huge house, the fans, the barbershops, the rings ect.. now after being part of the face of the laker franchise(where he thought he would retire)he has to up and leave to a place 2,000 miles away and there really is no point in his mind to play for this team. he already won all those rings, so what could he want out of miami, and this is why his numbers have been way down because he is in a depressed basketball state of mind. and kobe may not be more mature, we dont know that, but what we do know is that kobe didnt have to go through what shaq did, so until he does, if he ever does than we will never see the way he acts towards the situation...holla

i would like to know what jim brown said about kobe the other day after kobe scored 81 points.

hi guys. you both know that i know absolutely nothing about basketball, but since i've known both of you since you were born, i do remember the "report card" days, so this was very entertaining to read! AK you may in fact have tried to steal the report cards from the mail box, but your folks were much too smart for that, and you really didn't have to anyway! you've both doing a great job--but more about your mom would be terrific. keep up the good work. i love reading what you write!! aunt jan

First of all, I want to say this is a great blog!! The citizens of LA and others here are very passionate about the Lakers.
I too am quite passsionate about the Lakers, having been a fan my entire life and rearing my children to be Laker fans even though we reside on the east coast. My commitment to the Lakers dates back to the West and Baylor years and the tragic losses to the kelly green goblins..
Many of you hear seem to have a distaste for Shaq and question his role as leader of the team when he was in uniform...I would like to point out a few things..normally when the ball is given to the younger player an announcement to the team and public is made. I believe this was the case during the Kareem, Magic years (Showtime!!)and I am sure Chamberlain stated when he signed with LA, he was coming to do the intangibles. So Mgt should have informed Kobe he had to wait for his turn and then assured him it was coming..but right Shaq is our leader.
it has also been stated Shaq did not hit his free throws and I agree but I would like to offer that free throws made by Shaq was not and is not nearly as important as free throws attempted by him...I believe the stats support when Oneal gets to the line 12-15 or more times a night the opponents front line is desimated. Thus making it very easy for a marksman like Kobe to shoot over some and jump over others as was thhe case when Kobe and Shaq were clad in purple and gold.

It was a mistake for the Lakers to let Shaq go..period!!! He is not replaceable and as we saw last season and will witness again this season....the Lakers are not contenders!!! not for the division, conference or title!! There is nothing Bryant can do to change that.

Laker ownership and management should have quelled the riff between Bryant and Oneal because we had too much to lose..No's 8 and 34 were supposed to be the next 2 jersey's to hang in the rafters among the other no's we so dearly love.
There has been a great loss here, for the Laker franchise, Laker fans and for these two talented athletes. Shaq and Kobe will never be as acclaimed individually as they could have been together in the Purple and Gold of the storied Los Angeles Lakers!!!!!!

I only have one question for those of you who are having this ridiculous argument about the criteria for a MVP.

What happen to the MVP being the Most Valuable Player for the League?

Valuable as in, who the fans come to see.
Not the team that he plays for.

From where I sit it should be a player that has brought the fans to the arenas, both at home and especially on the road.

Again, all this discussion about stats and who more valuable to their team really has nothing to do with who is more valuable to the league

Shaq was already the most proclaimed athlete other than Jordan when he entered the league. Kobe will never be anything other than a selfish, egotistical, sociopath that loves to take. It wasn't a surprise that Kobe has been having problems with everyone, not just Shaq, but Phil or who ever else is around him, he’s a sociopath. Shaq is in the finals and Kobe’s at home w/ Jerry Buss rubbing his feet, telling him how is 81 was the very best single game performance he ever saw. Selfish is not the word when it comes to Kobe Bryant and his character. One day he will see the errors of his ways, while Shaq has a ring on every finger on his “slap-kobe” hand, Kobe will still be taking!

When Magic and Norm Nixon had issues, what did Buss do, took them to Vegas where the agreed to get along. Also, no one liked Kareem (Kobe), see how both their names start with a K, but did he ever trade him? No! Trading Shaq was the biggest mistake by any franchise that has ever been made! Other than the Bosox trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees for money or something not as great as Babe Ruth.

The Lakers should have never made a decision on the two, make them play together or trade them both; had Kobe not re-signed w/ the Laker, Mitch would have been on food stamps with O’le BD. Shaq had his best days on LA, where he one several championship, MVP's of all types, but will go into the Hall of Fame as a Heat.

Team chemistry will always trump individual player skills. We have a problem with the Laker chemistry. The guys don't pull for each other. A basketball game is like war---and you need warriors. Is Brian Cook a warrior? Would you rather be in a foxhole with Kobe or Smush? I would go into battle with Mo Evans, Sasha, Kobe, Ronny, and who else? That's what the problem is---there is no mental toughness. Smush plays "playground" ball, with frenetic activity, and is better off the bench. Jordan Farmar is fantastic but young. Andrew Bynum needs years to mature, and Kobe is in his prime. We can't wait for Andrew to become a great player: it usually happens on team #2 or even #3. Kobe is 28 going on 38 to quote Mark Heisler, so we need to surround him with competent players NOW. Who on the Lakers has rings but Kobe? We should all lament the fact that we don't have a Derek Fisher with playoff experience to lead the youngsters into battle, and for that, I blame Mitch.

As an addendum to my previous comment. Shaq is a leader on and off the court. With his antics and personality, he motivates his teammates. Kobe is brilliant, but is he the general of his troops? Have you seen the movie "300"? Who can lead the Lakers into the post-season fire-storm? Lamar? He is physically and mentally weakened. Mitch needed to have surrounded Kobe with warriors. could Jerry West be coerced into consulting for the Lakers? Remember, Phil knew that Andrew Bynum was a long-term project, and he didn't want him. Not while Kobe is in his prime.


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