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Category: Shaquille O'Neal

If Jerry West had stayed with Lakers, would Shaq have too? [Video]

Jerry West’s recently released autobiography suggests that if he hadn’t retired as Lakers general manager in 2000, perhaps the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant dynasty would have remained intact.

After West stepped down, the superstars’ feud reached a feverish pitch.

They attacked each other through the media, Bryant calling O’Neal fat and out of shape and O’Neal retaliating with bitter jabs at his teammate. At the end of the 2004 season, O’Neal was traded to Miami.

West watched it all unfold and wondered if things could have played out differently.

“When the tension between Shaquille and Kobe appeared to be at its worst, I recall thinking that this is what I would have done: I would have appealed to both of them and said, 'Hey, this does not make either of you look good,' " West wrote in his autobiography, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life.”

“I would have spoken with both of them individually and then in a room together. I would have bluntly asked them, ‘What are you trying to accomplish here? Tell me what the hell it is?' "

Before his final season with the team, O’Neal, feeling frustrated and underappreciated, publicly lashed out against Lakers owner Jerry Buss in hopes of getting a lucrative contract extension. It was during an exhibition game in Honolulu. Shaq blocked a shot then screamed at Buss, “Now you gonna pay me?”

West thinks he could have stopped that from happening. O’Neal agrees.

“Had I still been with the Lakers, I would like to believe I could have prevented Shaquille from publicly antagonizing Jerry Buss to the degree that he had. I would have told him that if someone is paying you $120 million, you can’t denigrate him like that in the press. If I could have done that, there is a good chance that Shaquille wouldn’t have left the Lakers after the 2004 season. But I don’t know that for sure, much as Mitch and others, including Shaquille (who continues to insist that if I had still been there, he would have still been there), seem to think otherwise.”

In an interview on Wednesday at ESPN ZONE in downtown Los Angeles, West said he doesn't have any regrets about leaving the Lakers.

"It was really time for me to go," he said. "I had gotten to the point where I couldn't watch a game -- just miserable."

However, it definitely makes you wonder: If West had stayed with the Lakers, would O’Neal have stayed as well? And if so, how many championships could the Lakers have won?

MORE:

A review of "West by West"

Greatest sports figures in L.A. history: Jerry West

Why Jerry West wanted to share his struggles with depression [Video]

--Melissa Rohlin

 

Shaquille O'Neal doubts Kobe Bryant will listen to Mike Brown

Kobe Bryant/Shaquille O'Neal

Aside from his four NBA rings, post dominance and questions about his work ethic, Shaquille O'Neal's legacy also will include his strong track record in trashing former teammates.

The top target has been and will always remain Kobe Bryant. But in excerpts leaking out from his book "Shaq Uncut: My Story," it appears the work he did with respected hoops writer Jackie MacMullan also throws some barbs at LeBron James. Aside from James' disappearing playoff act in 2010, O'Neal also notices how former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown remained hesitant in pointing out James' defensive shortcomings. So much that Delonte West called out Brown about it after glossing over some of those shortcuts in a film session. No word, though, on whether Brown held back on O'Neal's own poor defense, but that's a topic for another day. 

"Our coach, Mike Brown, was a nice guy, but he had to live on edge because nobody was supposed to be confrontational with LeBron," O’Neal wrote, as reported by Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy. "Nobody wanted him to leave Cleveland, so he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do."

This raises more questions about how Brown will handle Bryant. He remains forever competitive, but even former coach Phil Jackson struggled in maintaining a balance between giving the superstar space and reining him in when he broke away from team concepts. Of course, O'Neal noticed the difference between how Brown might coach Bryant compared to former Lakers assistant Brian Shaw, who was passed up for the job.

"I’m not sure if Kobe is going to listen to Mike Brown," O'Neal wrote. "LeBron never really did. Here’s what we do know: Kobe will definitely be in charge.... "

In another passage, O'Neal wrote: "Somehow Kobe and I made it through the rest of the [2003-04 season] without any major issues. BShaw managed to get us back on track. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. All of these supposed Lakers leaders who care so much about the franchise, all these Lakers legends, none of them ever had the courage to say anything to Kobe and me. Not Kareem, not Magic, not Mitch Kupchak, none of them. Only Brian Shaw took us on. Yet when the Lakers job came up in 2011 they didn’t give Brian Shaw a chance by looking right past him. Go figure."

RELATED:

Shaquille O'Neal book details mistrust with Kobe Bryant

Shaq answers Kobe Bryant: 'I don’t need to work out'

Kobe Bryant criticizes Shaquille O'Neal's work ethic again

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant, left, and Shaquille O'Neal share a Lakers bench but little else in May 2004. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Shaquille O'Neal book details mistrust with Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, never all that friendly, share a moment at Staples Center after winning the first of three consecutive championships in 2000.

Years removed from his public sparring from Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal proclaimed since then that the feuding served nothing more than a motivational tool between the two teammates and nothing more than a marketing tool for the general public.

O'Neal attempted saying that with a straight face when the two formally ended their feud in 2006, when they reunited for the 2009 NBA All-Star game and when he retired this offseason. Not that any of us believed it, but we can now say for sure that O'Neal still harbors ill will toward Bryant. "Shaq Uncut: My Story," his autobiography written with respected hoops writer Jackie MacMullan to be released Nov. 15, makes it pretty clear how Bryant's pending sexual-assault case and O'Neal's uncertain NBA future ultimately led the Big Fella to threaten Bryant during the 2003-04 season.

"So I'm on edge because I don't have a new deal, and Kobe is on edge because he might be going to jail, so we're taking it out on each other," according to an excerpt posted on Deadspin. "Just before the start of the '03-'04 season the coach staff called us in and said, 'No more public sparring or you'll get fined.' ... Phil was tired of it. Karl Malone and Gary Payton were sick of it. ... So what happens? Immediately after that Kobe runs right out to Jim Gray and does this interview where he lets me have it. He said I was fat and out of shape. He said I was milking my toe injury for more time off, and the injury wasn't even that serious. (Yeah, right. It only ended my damn career.) He said I was 'lobbying for a contract extension when we have two Hall of Famers playing pretty much for free.' I'm sitting there watching this interview and I'm gonna explode. Hours earlier we had just promised our coach we'd stop. It was a truce broken. I let the guys know, 'I'm going to kill him.'

Continue reading »

Lakers' Time Warner Cable deal shouldn't be held against them

LakersWith one pen stroke, the Lakers apparently drew a cloud over the NBA and the players union and their negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The team's 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable, starting next year, didn't just anger Lakers fans who only have access to network channels. The deal angered other NBA owners, who believe it gives the Purple & Gold another unfair advantage. The contract, which Times columnist Bill Plaschke reported could be worth as much as $3 billion, won't just enrich the Lakers. It may enrich the small-market owners, who believe that they're entitled to revenue sharing. 

"That Lakers TV deal scared the hell out of everybody," one league official told ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn't fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they're playing against."

The tension illustrates the fallacy behind the notion that revenue sharing would ensure competitive balance. TrueHoop's Tom Haberstroh provides an in-depth analysis indicating that smart spending and draft picks ensure a team's success more than competitive balance.

But the jealousy over the Lakers' television deal also points to what should be a misconception among some owners -- that they're entitled to such revenue without making the smart business moves and taking the risks that ultimately ensure such a lucrative deal.

Continue reading »

Shaquille O'Neal answers Kobe Bryant: 'I don’t need to work out'

Kobe BryantShaquille O'Neal's time with the Lakers is far enough in the past that he's not going to call Kobe Bryant names. But Shaq is not sufficiently removed from his storied 19-year NBA career where he can give an honest self-evaluation.

Even if O'Neal and Bryant formally ended their feud in 2006, Bryant didn't mince words during a Nike promotional stop in Italy when he acknowledged that Shaq's 30-minute workouts still annoyed him, considering that Bryant would put in six to seven hours a day in the gym.

Shaq would have none of it.

"I don’t need to work out," O'Neal said when the New York Times' Joe Brescia asked him about Bryant's comments. "My numbers speak for itself. My three finals MVP’s speaks for itself."

Yes, they do. O'Neal's four rings, three finals MVP awards, one regular-season MVP and 28,596 career points speak to how he became one of the league's most dominant centers ever, but strictly by talent alone. Had he entered training camp in shape, taken the game seriously and mimicked Bryant's workouts, it's possible O'Neal could've lived up to Phil Jackson's prediction that he'd become a 10-time league MVP. 

For O'Neal, the need to entertain became more of a focal point simply because his 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame allowed him to skate by. But in measuring O'Neal's legacy, his numbers speak more of underachieving with his tremendous talent.

RELATED:

Kobe Bryant criticizes Shaquille O'Neal's work ethic again

How many minutes should Kobe Bryant play next season?

Shaquille O'Neal's retirement brings reflections on his legacy with the Lakers

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.

Photo: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal back in the day. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Kobe Bryant criticizes Shaquille O'Neal's work ethic again

Kobe Bryant

It turns out Kobe Bryant won't wax nostalgic about Shaquille O'Neal after hanging up his laces.

It shouldn't be surprising considering they rarely got along during their tumultuous time together with the Lakers. But enough time had passed since then for Shaq to suggest his rifts with Bryant were motivational ploys, Jerry Buss to express appreciation for O'Neal's role in winning three championships and the Lakers to make plans at some point to retire his jersey.

O'Neal and Bryant may have formally buried the hatchet in 2006, but if there's one thing that irks Bryant the most, it's someone who lacks work ethic. That's why Bryant didn't bite his tongue when asked in a radio interview in Italy about his issues with O'Neal.

"I like players who work out," said Bryant, according to a report in Sportando. "I used to do that six, seven hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them."

Bryant shares many Lakers fans' sentiments. As much as Lakers fans expressed frustration for the inability for O'Neal, Bryant, Buss and Phil Jackson to swallow a bit of their egos and find a way to co-exist to maximize championships, it's indisputable that O'Neal's questionable work ethic diminished his standing within the team.

Jackson believed O'Neal would win 10 league MVPS by the time he retired. But despite his four rings, three-time Finals MVP and one regular season MVP honors, and 28,596 career points, he woefully underachieved. Buss didn't just take offense to O'Neal's demands to pay him during a regular-season game or when he famously said before the 2002-03 season he delayed toe surgery so he could heal "on company time." Shaq's unpredictable behavior no longer made him a trustworthy investment. And as for Bryant, there's many areas that point to their fractured relationship, but the disparity in work ethic remained one of them.

And no matter how much time has passed, it's clear Bryant won't forgive or forget about it. 

RELATED:

How many minutes should Kobe Bryant play next season?

Shaquille O'Neal's retirement brings reflections on his legacy with the Lakers

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo credit: Kim D. Johnson / Associated Press

Will the NBA players union decertify?

David Stern

--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that several high-profile agents are getting closer to signing a petition with 30% of the NBA’s players needed to bring a formal vote on dissolving the union.

--The New York Times' Howard Beck looks at the possibility the NBA players union might decertify. 

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding explains why Lakers owner Jerry Buss will accept league revenue sharing.

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe breaks down what a hard cap means for the league structure. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky has an in-depth Q&A with Lakers forward Ron Artest about "Dancing with the Stars" and playing for Mike Brown, among other topics.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller jokes he may consider writing in Europe should the NBA lockout persist.

--Sheridanhoop's Chris Sheridan details Juan Carlos Navarro's sharp-shooting performance in Spain's win over Macedonia. 

Continue reading »

NBA lockout: Players union pessimistic about season

Derek Fisher

--The Times' Ben Bolch explains how expanded groups representing both the NBA owners and players union failed to make progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement in a five-hour meeting Tuesday in New York.

--TrueHoop's Henry Abbott looks at how revenue sharing would affect NBA teams, including the Lakers. 

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande sums up the NBA labor negotiations this way: "Owners: Give us our money back. Players: You can't have it."

--Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick wonders if the players union will decertify. 

--Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico looks at the disagreement the owners and players take regarding a hard cap. 

--NBA.com's Steve Aschburner analyzes the issue surrounding the hard cap and soft cap. 

--The New York Times' Howard Beck notes the pessimism coming out of Tuesday's meeting. 

--CBSSports.com's Ken Berger explains how the owners and players are actually nearing agreement. 

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr highlights Matt Barnes' new tattoo.

Continue reading »

Shaquille O'Neal says Jerry Buss called about number retirement

Jerry BussThe interactions at times sparked contentiousness.

Shaquille O'Neal once yelled out in the middle of a pre-season game for 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. The immediate aftermath entailed Shaq taking swipes at Buss' playboy lifestyle.

That's all water under the bridge at this point. Once O'Neal announced his retirement June 1 after a storied yet underachieving 19-year career, Buss released a statement thanking Shaq for his contributions to the Lakers' three-peat (2000-2002). The Lakers also announced they would retire his No. 34 jersey at an undetermined time. And as O'Neal told radio/TV personality Dan Patrick on Tuesday morning, Buss has called Shaq directly about his number retirement. 

The same couldn't be said about former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. Though Shaq told Patrick that Jackson was the best coach he ever played for, Jackson apparently didn't answer Shaq's phone call when he was in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Nonetheless, it appears old age, retirement and some revisionist history has allowed Shaq to view his Lakers run through rose-colored glasses. He's argued that the well-documented feud with Kobe Bryant was strictly a motivational ploy. Shaq's compliment toward Jackson contradicts his claim in 2006 when he boasted that Pat Riley was his best coach. And of course, Buss and O'Neal are now on speaking terms. 

But that's a good thing. Even if Shaq's fighting with Bryant, Jackson and Buss partly led to the Lakers prematurely breaking up a potential dynasty, they should at least look back with fondness on what O'Neal accomplished here. It's certainly warranted enough to earn a spot on the Staples Center rafters. 

RELATED:

Shaquille O'Neal gets statue at LSU, touts Lakers memories

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

Lakers plan to retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey number

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 

Shaquille O'Neal gets statue at LSU, touts Lakers memories

Shaquille O'Neal

It is unclear when a replica of the Big Aristotle will be replicated outside Staples Center.

Shaquille O'Neal agrees with the plan to feature Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the next Laker statue at an undetermined time. But if Louisiana State University's unveiling Friday of its own Shaq statue suggests anything, a Lakers-centric Shaq statue is going to require some heavy lifting. 

The thing weighs 900 pounds, inevitably prompting jokes about how close O'Neal will match that weight after retiring this summer after 19 years.  Lakers fans remained split on Shaq's legacy. Do they embrace his comedic presence and three NBA championships or wonder whether he could've won more in L.A.? Do they remember all the sniping at Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss, or has enough time passed to heal all wounds? 

The Lakers have publicly embraced O'Neal after his retirement. Buss released a statement thanking him for his contributions. The Lakers plan to retire his jersey number at an undetermined date. And though nothing has been made official, it wouldn't be surprising seeing Shaq's statue outside Staples Center one day. 

Enough time has passed for him to wax nostalgic on his time with the Lakers. Consider in a recent interview with Clearwater Patchthat two of his three favorite NBA memories involved his time with the Lakers. 

Among the highlights: "When I scored 61 points on my birthday (March 6, 2000, against the L.A. Clippers); winning the three-peat (from 2000-02 wearing a Lakers uniform); and winning the championship with Miami (in 2006)."

RELATED:

Shaquille O'Neal's retirement brings reflections on his legacy with the Lakers

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

Lakers plan to retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey number

Shaquille O'Neal expresses gratitude toward the Lakers

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo credit: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times.

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