Top 5 Shaq moments as a Laker
1. Lakers' three-peat. Regardless of whether some believe Shaquille O'Neal's eight-year tenure with the Lakers could've gone better had his relationship with Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss didn't sour, he didn't always report to training camp out of shape and demanded Buss to "pay me" during a preseason game, the Lakers' owner rightfully released a statement thanking O'Neal for his contributions to the Lakers after he announced his retirement Wednesday. He played a significantly large part in the Lakers' three peat from 2000-2002, averaging 35.9 points, 15.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks during the Lakers' Final victories over the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets. The top moments during that run includes his legendary dunk off Bryant's alley oop lob in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers and his near quadruple-double in Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers
2. Shaq signs with the Lakers. In a move that former Lakers General Manager Jerry West compared to the birth of his children, O'Neal signed with the Lakers as a free agent to a seven-year, $120 million deal. Although it would take three seasons filled with early playoff exits before returning to the championship, O'Neal instantly breathed new life into the franchise after it lacked much of a star-power identity following the Showtime Era. The Lakers' ability to grab O'Neal from Orlando speaks to West's skill as an executive.
The Lakers dumped three players to make enough room under the salary cap. West shipped Vlade Divac to Charlotte for the rights to the team's 13th pick, which resulted in grabbing an 18-year-old named Kobe Bryant, and sent Anthony Peeler and George Lynch to clear up space. As with anything regarding West, the process wasn't an enjoyable one for him because of continuous unfounded speculation that the Lakers tampered with O'Neal.
"I couldn't sleep, continued to lose weight, which was probably the best thing about it, but emotionally I was spent," West told The Times' Scott Howard-Cooper. "There were times, even after it was over with that I just didn't think I had this in me any more. But getting away from it, and with so many very, very encouraging letters from fans and people that makes you feel better about yourself. You're appreciative of those things. That somewhat has, I think, put that to rest, for a while anyway."
Meanwhile, O'Neal addressed criticism that he was just chasing dollar signs.
"I'm tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money," O'Neal told reporters before following up with a tongue-in-cheek barb. "I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok."
3. Taking digs at Sacramento.
He had already nicknamed the Sacramento Kings the Queens, so there was no reason O'Neal wouldn't take a shot at them again, after the Western Conference rivals had slugged it out to a seven-game West finals that featured Robert Horry's buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4. Said Shaq: "Sacramento will never be the capital of California. Los Angeles is the new capital of California." I couldn't find his speech on YouTube, but here's a reasonable alternative. Shaq raps to the theme song from "Cheers" on why then-Kings center and former Laker Vlade Divac isn't a big deal.
4. Shaq curses on live television. Upset over the officiating of a regular-season game against Toronto on Super Bowl Sunday in 2004, O'Neal didn't mince words in a post-game interview with Lakers' sideline reporter John Ireland.
O'Neal: David Stern wonders why the league is losing money, that's why. People pay good money to watch over these athletes player and [the referees] try to take over the ... game.
Ireland: We're on live
O'Neal: I don't give a ...
5. Endlessly memorable quotes. This website proves to be a very good resource and there's no use regurgitating them.
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org