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Shaquille O'Neal expresses gratitude toward the Lakers

In a press conference that consisted of plenty of jokes, some remorse for struggling from the free throw line and some revisionist history, former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal gave his official retirement announcement at his Orlando residence, expressing nothing but gratitude toward the Lakers' organization.

It's well-documented that O'Neal and Kobe Bryant had a tumultuous relationship during his eight-year career with the Lakers, with reasons ranging from Bryant's dislike for O'Neal's work ethic, O'Neal's dislike for Bryant's shooting tendencies and Bryant, when he was suspected of sexual assault, telling authorities that O'Neal paid off mistresses. But O'Neal insisted all the verbal jousting that ultimately led to the Lakers trading him to Miami to 2004 didn't indicate the two were on bad terms.

"A lot of people on the outside looking in would say Kobe and I had problems," O'Neal said.  "But no, as a CEO who was task-driven, as a CEO you have to differentiate relationship-driven and task-driven. I was task driven. The task was to win championships. I pushed Kobe's buttons. Kobe pushed my buttons. We were able to win three out of four. I did the same thing with D Wade. A lot of people didn't understand my tactics, but it was business.

"A lot of people think we hate each other, but I see Kobe and his beautiful wife and his beautiful daughters all the time and I go to the babies and say hi, it's Uncle Shaq and they say hi, we kiss them on the cheek. It's all about the task."

It's well-documented that Shaq didn't always listen to Phil Jackson's coaching tactics, took offense to Jackson questioning his work ethic and once accused Jackson of orchestrating the drama intentionally between him and Bryant. But as O'Neal reflected on his 19-year career that included stints with the Orlando Magic, Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, he singled out two particular coaches -- Doc Rivers and Jackson.

"Phil Jackson is the one who taught me how to really focus," O'Neal said, "and concentrate on what's going on and getting to that championship level."

And it's also well-documented that O'Neal didn't end on the best of terms with Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who received a verbal jab from O'Neal during a preseason game demanding that he get paid. When the Lakers traded O'Neal to Miami, he took swipes at Buss' playboy lifestyle. 

It's debatable whether O'Neal's mixed relationship with the Lakers has completely evaporated, but it stayed well enough for Buss and O'Neal to talk Thursday about dinner plans, while the team released a statement expressing appreciation for his role in the Lakers' three-peat from 2000-2002 and announced that they will retire his No. 34 jersey in the Staples Center rafters. There's no word yet on a statue, but O'Neal gladly deferred to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who publicly said the Lakers' failure to honor him  was one of many examples in which the organization has disrespected him.

"I did a lot there," O'Neal said of his time with the Lakers. "I didn't do more than the big fella, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, so business-wise let's take care of the big fella first. After that, if they want to come around and give me a statue, I'll accept it. If not, I'll understand."

Even if  Lakers fans have expressed appreciation for bringing excitement into the Lakers organization and for helping the team win three titles, many of them have also argued O'Neal underachieved because of his ongoing injury issues, because he'd arrive at training camp out of shape and of course, because of his incidents with Bryant. But the only hint of remorse O'Neal expressed entailed a facet of his game that opponents continuously exploited.

"I definitely won't be back and let me tell you the reason why. Toward the end of my career, I always started to get a little bit selfish. I've always heard the two most dominant players were Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal. Wilt is at 31,000 [points] and I'm at 28,000. If I had 100 points fewer than him, I would come back to pass him up and that would put me as the most dominant player in the world. But I'm three years away.

"If I would've been at my highest potential, I'd probably be the No. 2 scorer and this probably would've been a better conference. That's the only thing I'm upset with about."

-- Mark Medina

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In the "keepin' it real" category, Shaq's been retired for years. Real hasn't been what the PT Barnum of basketball was about. If they kept a quotable stat, and if they do I don't want to know about it though it wouldn't surprise me, he'd be the all time league leader.

Good Afternoon Blog Fam,

How's everyone on this beautiful FRIDAY afternoon?

Mark great job on the thread, Couldn't stop laughing while rading it. Finally some nice things are said about Lakers coming from Big fella, but as Bill wrote, Shaq could have done a lot more for LA if he stayed.

Also what's interesting is that apperantly Shaq loved pushing peoples buttons to make them championship ready? lol that sounds like a pretty bad idea, but he said it worked for Kobe and Dwade, so maybe the guy new something that others didn't!

Wow, lots of trade Pau vs trade Bynum talk yesterday...

How bout this:

Trade Pau + Caracter or Ebanks

for Kirk Hinrich and Josh Smith.

Re: The reliability of Bynum and Gasol

Gasol has been the more reliable player in 3 of the last 4 postseasons. We are all talking about how horrible Pau was this postseason but his 13 and 8 or whatever he ended up with is better than any postseason Andrew had in 2008-2010. No matter how bad Pau struggled this year, Bynum just has not been healthy enough to be called the more reliable one.

i can't watch the video at work. did he by chance mention arvydas sabonis? arvydas deserves an apology for consistently getting manhandled. probably include chris dudley too. MM, that video you threw up when dudley threw the ball at shaq was high-lar-i-ous! happy friday yall! #stillkissinbiceps


BaytoLA1 - you got a point there, even tho Pau has been slackin off this last season, he is more reliable than Bynum, not only because of his injury, but his incosistant play, the only realy play and 100% effort we saw of Bynum was after the All-star break when we went 17-1. other than that Gasol has been working hard since we got him in the trade and he brought us 2 titles, we would have 3 if we had Bynum in the 07-08 finals against Boston... Oh how sweet would have been that victory instead of a 30 point loss...

Heat vs Mavs, looks like it's going to be a real series now.
I don't think the Mavs will win 3 straight at home and think they absolutely must win 2 of 3 and go back to Miami up 3-2 then try to pull out a W in game 6 or 7.
The pressure is now on the Mavs as the Heat must win only 1 game of the 3 in Dallas.
I think the format still favors the Heat.
Look forward to a game 7, hope it goes the distance.

@Lrob.. good to be back.. but i aint feelin this typepad thing!

@Tim-4-show... cp3 for pau or bynum for dwight are absolute no brainers!! we'll be lucky if they'll even consider but we can always dream a little dream.

@hobbit... you may be right about pau in the euro but guess that will depend on the real reason he melted down and we may never know until we can get inside his soft head or maybe till phil violates every lockeroom code again with another tell all book... if he was havin confidence issues then shame on him (an 18MIL player) but maybe i can understand but think it was way more than that.. what he lacked most was EFFORT.. he gave up on plays, refused to fight back, and just didnt want to deal with the grind and pressure of the playoffs.. whatever the reason SHIP HIS ARSE OUTTA HERE!! but what paula really needs is a nice long rest with frequent trips to the gym like he did for the first time in his life in the summer of 08.. i mean how embarrassing is that to be a PRO athlete and admit u've never lifted weights our entire life.. what a PANSY!!

Art, I agree with you. I have always disliked the 2-3-2 format for the Finals, as it seems to present the team with 4 home games a disproportionately large advantage. Beating a team 3 straight times is extremely difficult, but it is practically a necessity in this format because, as our Lakers showed last year, coming home down 2-3 with the last 2 games at home still gives the "home" team a huge advantage.

Dallas showed great discipline last night in not giving up, but I tend to agree with D Wade and LeBron that their loss last night was more about their failure to executed on defense down the stretch more than on Dallas' great offense. The Heat defense in the 3rd quarter was really amazing (73 points for Dallas halfway through the 4th quarter...), but down the stretch they didn't play with the same effort. For that reason, I'm doubtful that Dallas can pull off three straight in Dallas (4 overall). But I'm hoping they will....

Do you see what we did?

Now everyone has to get a statue or else they'll feel like we screwed them over.

Let me ask you guys something. What do Magic & West have in common?

Both played their whole careers with the Lakers.
Both won at least one title with the Lakers.
Both worked after their playing careers for the Lakers in some sort of management role.
Both have been or have become the "face" of the Lakers organization at some point.
Both are Hall of Famers that were considered the greatest at their position when they left the game.

Now ask yourself how many people without a statue meet those criteria.
KAJ? No. He played for the Bucks. He never became the face of the Lakers.
Elgin? No. He became the face of the Clippers and never won a title with the Lakers.
Shaq? He played on so many teams I can't count them. He almost became Mr Laker hater after he left.

But now everyone gets a statue when their number is retired... because, well... they were GREAT.

Makes sense. Other cities give their greats a statue... it's just those other cities don't have quite as many greats to honor, now do they?

Soon it will be like handing out Stars in Hollywood. There's so many of them, you're looking down wondering "who's that?" and "they must have been something to get this star, but I never heard of this person"

Re: The reliability of Bynum and Gasol

Posted by: BayToLA1 | June 03, 2011 at 12:18 PM

to choose between the weak knees or the weak heart??... i'm takin my chances with the knees!!


Agree about the statue issue.
They just need to establish some specific criteria for a statue and stick to it.
Magic and West make sense for the reasons you stated.
Shaq, nope.
Kareem, well, doesn't matter since they have already committed to yes.

@ART ... There’s a reason why so many trades that occur seem to be deals that were under the radar and not foreseen by the media, especially when talking about trades for superstar or all-star players. The dynamics involved include team’s current assessment of the value of the players being discussed, the respective teams’ financial, salary cap, and luxury tax situations, whether the team with whom they are taking is in the same conference, etc. It’s not like just firing up the ESPN trade machine.
So while the Lakers front office has come out and said they were moving forward with the same core group of players, I still think they will be keeping their options open. If Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, or any player who might be on their radar suddenly does become available, I have no doubt the Lakers would definitely consider taking advantage of the opportunity to get better. Personally, I think regardless of what they are saying, the Lakers will make a move.
Much has been made of the point that trading Drew, Pau, or Lamar to solve our point guard problem would violate the sacred credo that you never trade big for small. While I am a big believer in size and length, the reality is that this is a time where the Lakers may need to trade size and length for speed and athleticism, especially since they will be leaving the Triangle in their rear view mirror. Bottom line, we need a better point guard solution than Fisher and Blake to win a championship and the only viable trade pieces we have that could accomplish that are Drew, Pau, and Lamar.
The logical game plan to me would be for the Lakers first to look to trade Pau Gasol and Steve Blake for Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza. The NBA has a big problem in New Orleans. Until they resolve the problems with Chris Paul and either get him to sign an extension or trade him for an elite player with a stable contract, the NBA is not going to be able to find a buyer for the franchise. Right now, most observers believe that there is no way that Chris Paul is going to stay with the New Orleans. As soon as the Hornets find that Chris is not going to stay, the league will have no option but to trade him.
As for Ariza, the Hornets obviously have not been happy with his development. 11 points per game and a 40% shooting percentage from the field and 30% from beyond the arc are not what they hoped to get when they signed him to a 4-year $30M deal. Including him in a 4-player deal with Chris Paul that would get them Pau Gasol and Steve Blake would result in reducing their long term obligations. Bringing in a talented all-star power forward like Pau would give the Hornets an excellent front court trio with Okafor and West and stabilize the team’s roster so the NBA could find a new owner.

Leo Goose,

Yep, HCA in the FINALS is a huge advantage, which, I suppose, is why the team that has it so often wins and why the regular season games actually do matter if you are wanting to win the Championship.


I do think Kareem should have a statue. The guy is one of the greatest LA athletes EVER... I'm just saying that all this talk about statues has everyone expecting one.

I mean, Shaq with a statue?


I'll go with it if he starts working for the Lakers and proves himself to be as valuable in management as he was in the middle.

@LEO ... Excellent post. I especially liked your comment about the team needing “a personality change more than a personnel change” and agree 100% with your observation that the Lakers should be playing right now in the NBA Finals. Hopefully, the enthusiasm for defense and teamwork that Mike Brown will bring will be the catalyst for the personality change we need. I think that’s what the Lakers front office is counting on as well as a motivated group of players looking for redemption,
Having said that, my big concern still is whether or not these changes will be sufficient to bring about a change in Pau Gasol’s personality. I guess I find it hard to believe that this guy is ever going to be the player he once was. I totally do not buy the theory thrown out there that he was exhausted from having to play center while Drew was rehabbing his knee to start the season. I think the guy just lost his desire and motivation to play the game at a high level and quit, which is the worst thing he could have done to his coach and teammates. Does he deserve another chance to prove himself. Probably, but if the chance to trade him for Chris Paul or Deron Williams comes up, Pau will be gone.

@LTLF ... “Trade Pau + Caracter or Ebanks for Kirk Hinrich and Josh Smith.” Sorry but I do not like this trade at all. I don’t think Josh Smith has an ounce of basketball intelligence and Kirk Hinrich is not our solution at point guard. I wouldn’t trade Pau for anybody but CP3 or DWill.
@BAY TO LA ... Understand what you are saying about the risk of injury with respect to Drew but to me the chances that Drew will be able to stay healthy next year look far better to me than the chances that Pau is going to be able to raise his game back up to his previous level. Right now, he is a marked man as far as other teams go and after his playoff collapse, the physicality is only going to increase. Looking at the situation from that point of view says that Drew is likely to be more reliable.
Finally, when you consider trading Drew or Pau, you need to consider the fact that we have a great power forward on the bench in Lamar Odom who can step right in and replace Pau as our starting power forward. If we trade Drew for anybody other than Dwight, then you have to face the reality that Pau Gasol would be our starting center. That will just not work for a team that wants to play championship level defense. I think we all have seen what now happens when Pau plays center.

Tom, I'm with you on Pau. I am a huge skeptic of the "fatigue" excuse. His problems were clearly not physical. You could see it in his body language. He quit. He didn't hustle back on defense, he didn't contest shots, and he didn't exert himself offensively (you're an all-star in a slump, you take the ball hard to the rim and draw fouls to get your mojo back). I love his overall skillset, but I think his physical and mental weaknesses absolutely require young Bynum to step into the role of enforcer in the paint. While I did not like anything about what Drew did to Barea, the mere fact that he took out his frustrations physically separate him from Gasol. I'd prefer and expect a different outlet for that physicality, which is why I am a fan of Andrew.

I don't think a team can win a title with a 7 footer whose instincts are to lay the ball in rather than bringing down the rim. That tendency speaks to a larger problem of passivity (softness) that arises in other areas of his game. That said, the combo of skilled-though-soft Gasol alongside tough and physical Bynum makes for a potentially devastating front line--but Gasol needs to return to his all-star caliber level of play for this team to reclaim a title. If he can't (or won't) then trading him for an elite PG is clearly the way to go. However, like you, if an opportunity to get DWill or CP3 straight up for Pau is available right now, I don't think I give Pau a chance to redeem himself and I just pull the trigger on that trade with the comfort that Lamar can step in and play the PF position next to Drew....

Art, I strongly believe that HCA is key, and have always been a proponent of going hard for HCA during the regular season. Hopefully, Mike Brown's defensive strategy which, in the hands of far lesser talent, resulted in HCA twice for the Cavs will immediately translate to similar success in LA. I want to open the Finals against Miami here in LA next year....

to choose between the weak knees or the weak heart??... i'm takin my chances with the knees!!

Posted by: Yellofever | June 03, 2011 at 01:03 PM

ahaha funny

Laker Tom,

>>>“Trade Pau + Caracter or Ebanks for Kirk Hinrich and Josh Smith.” Sorry
>>>but I do not like this trade at all. I don’t think Josh Smith has an ounce of
>>>basketball intelligence and Kirk Hinrich is not our solution at point guard

Smith and Hinrich are both very good defenders. MUCH better than Pau, Fish, and Blake.

When the Bulls had Hinrich, they used him to defend LeBron with some success in the playoffs. That's how useful a defender he is. I don't think you could do that all the time, but some. And he's very good at defending the PG position.

And Hinrich also hit 42% of his 3's for Atlanta last season.

Smith is an excellent defender and one of the best shot blockers in the league. He's someone you could use to defend Dirk or Bosh or Garnett who would NEVER be soft.

And if the Lakers trade off Gasol, then Bynum becomes the second option on offense and gains his chance to break out and become a superstar.

And what's more, Atlanta is a team that has two decent PGs (Hinrich and Teague) and is lacking in size (6'9" Al Horford is their C). So adding a true 7 footer is something they'd relish.

LT, I know you're hyping the Pau for Paul idea, but that doesn't make as much sense for the other team.

The only reason New Orleans would trade off Chris Paul would be for financial reasons (they're one of the teams that loses money, which is one of the reasons they're having trouble finding a buyer). Thus they wouldn't dump Paul's contract for an even bigger contract. Their ideal trade would be something like Chris Paul for John Wall and filler. Or Chris Paul for Ricky Rubio and filler. Get back a good-but-not-quite-as-good PG who makes very little and thus start the rebuild with lots of cap space.

I hope to see Shaq as an analyst on TNT with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Those three would make an awesome team. I'm sure TNT, ESPN and NBA TV are racing to sign Superman to a contract. We'll see next season.....

Unfortunately, CP3 cannot be traded easily because the NBA owns the Hornets and any trade would have to be approved by the league. A trade involving Dwight seems more feasible. Hopefully, Buss will realize that Dwight has more value and is likely to stay healthy for a longer period of time. Bynum is injury prone and has been an emotional basket case lately. If the Lakers want a better product on the court, they should consider doing the trade.

Go Lakers!

Monta Ellis is available, I'm willing to bet he solves almost all the lakers problems overnight. He would add a quick, young, penetrating player that can create his own shot and score. He'd have to dedicate himself on improving on the defensive end. At this point I would send Gasol to G.S. for Ellis and a throw in such as Charlie bell to get the salaries to get closer. Ellis is making a decent 11 million per year.

O'Neal insisted all the verbal jousting that ultimately led to the Lakers trading him to Miami to 2004 didn't indicate the two were on bad terms.

No, it meant they were on worst terms. You never know what's coming from Shaq; jokes or insults; truth or fiction; facts or fabrication. The big dapper never really matured as a young man or a basketball player. Shaq left a lot points on the table with friends and in the game of basketball.



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