Shaq and The Lakers Underachieved
Shaq could’ve done so much more by staying in a Lakers uniform.
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Shaq’s retirement announcement included no bells and whistles, just a simple video shot in his Orlando home, sent out to facebook, youtube, and other social outlets. Not the grand exit expected of someone so colorful and outlandish as Shaq.
At least he could’ve done it in style with Kobe by his side with thousands of cheering fans at the Staples Center. Shaq demanded much respect on the court, but his work ethic was always in question during his Lakers tenure and the remainder of his career. Shaq surely could’ve worked harder, as most agree. Yet, Jerry Buss allowing him to leave was a decision that had to be made, albeit a costly one. If Shaquille O’Neal remained here beyond 2004 instead of being traded away after eight memorable seasons, he might have become basketball’s greatest center and the Lakers would have become basketball’s greatest champions.
But Shaq’s immaturity just continued to surface, along with Kobe’s. Couple that with Jerry Buss’ ego, and what you have is three people whining at the expense of winning championships.
Sadly, though, the childishness that was Shaq’s blessing was also his curse. He not only joked like a teenager, he was filled with the sudden anger and unwarranted jealousy and, yes, the occasional laziness of a teenager.
What if Shaq had maximized his talents?
After winning his third championship with the Lakers, Shaq need surgery immediately, yet refused to have it until the season began in September- infuriating Jerry Buss and the Lakers organization. This proved to be the last straw when Shaq said, “Since I suffered the injury on company time, why shouldn’t I be able to get surgery and recover on company time?” This in effect sealed Shaq’s future in L.A. as trade talks began unbeknownst to Shaq before the season began; a season that would see Shaq’ struggling with his fitness and eventually ending with a Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons.