Since entering the NBA in 1992, there is no feud (either real or perceived) that Shaquille O'Neal will not track down and endlessly prattle on the record about for anyone who will listen.
Of course, it helps that he's been lucky enough to have been paired with some of the finest players in NBA history (Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, LeBron James; possibly Penny Hardaway had he stayed healthy, and last year's veteran crew in Boston) during an NBA career that ended last May. O'Neal's thoughts seem all that more interesting on the surface as a result of all that star power. After all, nobody is anxious to hear Dikembe Mutombo's thoughts on Eldridge Recasner.
It makes sense that a week after we found out (for the 15th consecutive year) what O'Neal thought about Kobe Bryant in a snippet from his new book, that his thoughts on LeBron James and Shaq's time in Cleveland would come spilling out. And, courtesy of HoopsWorld.com, here is the lowdown, in Shaquille's voice:
Our coach, Mike Brown, was a nice guy, but he had to live on edge because nobody was supposed to be confrontational with LeBron. Nobody wanted him to leave Cleveland, so he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do.
I remember one day in a film session LeBron didn't get back on defense after a missed shot. Mike Brown didn't say anything about it. He went to the next clip and it was Mo Williams not getting back and Mike was saying, "Yo, Mo, we can't have that. You've got to hustle a little more." So Delonte West is sitting there and he's seen enough and he stands up and says, "Hold up, now. You can't be pussyfooting around like that. Everyone has to be accountable for what they do, not just some of us." Mike Brown said, "I know, Delonte. I know." Mike knew Delonte was right.
Do I even have to type out the obvious retort, here? The one that had Shaquille O'Neal failing to get back on defense for the entirety of the Obama Administration and a good chunk of George W. Bush's second term? There's a reason Delonte West got up to confront the room, and Shaq did not.
Here's O'Neal's reflections on LeBron James' somnambulant performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis back in 2010:
There's no question in Game 5 LeBron was kind of out of it. … I always believed he could turn it on at any moment, but for some reason he didn't. Not against the Celtics in 2010 and not against the Mavericks in 2011. It was weird. It's one thing to be a passer, but you are supposed to be the One. I'm watching him play against Dallas, and they're swinging the ball and they get him a perfect open look — and he's kicking it to Mario Chalmers. Makes no sense.
It was weird to watch LeBron against the Celtics in 2010, mainly because he averaged 26.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 7.5 assists in seven slowed-down playoff games in 2008 against the best defense in the NBA (the C's, derp) two years before. He floated in 2010, he didn't appear to care, and he seemed to want no part in dealing with a Celtics team that could have been taken down even with a limited Cavalier supporting cast.
But it isn't as if we heard much from O'Neal following that game. After all, the Cavaliers had a Game 6 to play two nights later, and I don't recall Shaq grabbing his teammates by their warm-ups, and telling them what it would take to bring Cleveland their first championship. Or to get the third round. Whatever.
O'Neal better get it in now. There's not a lot of book and blog fodder to come when it's time to print some tell-all about time spent on the Inside the NBA set.
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- LeBron James
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