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NBA schedule: Shaquille O'Neal says Lakers will 'come back strong'

July 19, 2011 | 12:44 pm

Shaquille O'Neal In the years immediately following his controversial trade from the Lakers to the Miami Heat, Shaquille O'Neal took any opportunity he could to take a swipe at the Lakers. 

He bad-mouthed Kobe Bryant, with the two having had a contentious relationship when they played together on the Lakers. He took shots at Lakers owner Jerry Buss over the latter's purported interest in younger women. And he even delivered a few remarks toward Phil Jackson, suggesting that the former coach had orchestrated the drama involving O'Neal and Bryant. 

But nowhere in Shaq's analysis on NBA TV Tuesday did he take aim at the Lakers. He saved his trash-talking for the Miami Heat, praising them for having the Big 2 in Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and noticeably leaving Chris Bosh absent. But as far as the Lakers? Shaq believes they will be fine.

"The Lakers are going to come back strong, definitely," O'Neal said.

But does Shaq believe the Lakers can win the 2011-2012 championship under Coach Mike Brown? That part remains uncertain.

"The Heat will come back strong," he said. "Boston will come back strong. Orlando is going to be better. I think it's going to be another exciting season, but I believe another underdog will win the title."

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Photo: Even Shaquille O'Neal seemed amazed after his dunk after a lob from Kobe Bryant in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals against Portland. Credit: Paul Morse / Los Angeles Times