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Jerry Buss expresses appreciation for Shaquille O'Neal's presence with the Lakers

June 1, 2011 |  4:10 pm

Shaquille O'Neal once, in the middle of a preseason game, famously yelled out to Lakers owner Jerry Buss to "pay me." Skeptical of O'Neal's injury history and his $30-million-a-year asking price, Buss traded him in 2004. And the immediate aftermath entailed Shaq taking swipes at Buss' preference for hanging out with twentysomethings.

But with Shaq announcing his retirement Wednesday, enough time and perspective has passed for Buss to express his appreciation for O'Neal's eight-year tenure with the Lakers, which included a three-peat from 1999-2002.

"Shaq had a long and amazing career, with a huge impact both on and off the court," Buss said in a statement released by the team. "His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn't have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams.”

-- Mark Medina

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