VIBE Q: STILL BUSTIN’ BALLS
POSTRETIREMENT, SHAQUILLE O’NEAL’S CANDOR HASN’T GONE DORMANT. THE NEWEST ADDITION TO INSIDE THE NBA PICKS UP A FEW FLAGRANT FOULS WHILE ADDRESSING HIS LEGACY, PAT RILEY, RAPPING AND HOW HE GOT WHACKED BY A CERTAIN TWO-GUARD – Thomas Golianpoulos
Continued From Part 1 -
VIBE: Some sportswriters think you underachieved because you only won one MVP.
Shaq: Steve Nash is my boy, but I don’t see how the fuck he got it twice. I was taught never to complain because you can’t beat the system. People know who the real dominant guy was. But Steve Nash, I don’t want to say it because you might print it and it might cause problems. I don’t believe he beat me out twice.
Was there genuine animosity between the Lakers and the 2002 Kings?
It wasn’t, but I created it. I know how to get you to watch me. Okay, Sacramento is coming up and it’s already a big game, “Fuck them, the Sacramento Queens.” And now everyone is talking about that. When the Kobe thing ﬁrst started, it didn’t get out of hand because of me and him, it got out of hand because the guys that liked him would write a story and the guys that liked me would write a story. I knew what I was doing. What we were doing was reality TV without us being taped. I knew what I was doing because it kept us out there every day. The crazy thing is, 15 years later, people are still talking about it. I know how to get people talking, “Forget the Queens.”
The trash talk against Sacramento worked. Peja Stojakovic and Doug Christie missed open three’s down the stretch.
They were shook. Pressure busts pipes. Most of those guys were playing because of C-Webb’s balls. C-Webb had balls and White Chocolate [Jason Williams] had balls. [Writer’s Note: Williams was traded from Sacramento before the 2001–02 season, and didn’t play in that series.] Divac ain’t got no balls. Doug Christie damn sure ain’t got no balls. I would look at them during the national anthem. I could see in their eyes if they were scared. I would see Doug Christie looking and doing the thing [ﬂashing hand signals] to his wife. I would make eye contact with Divac, and he looked down. And I was like, “Okay, I got him.” C-Webb would try to look hard, but it didn’t work because his other puppies didn’t play well.
Now, settle this barbershop argument: Would the Lakers have three-peated if you replaced Kobe Bryant with either Allen Iverson or Tracy McGrady?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, because I was going to do what I do, which was 29 and 15. And you know those guys could have given you what Kobe was doing. So yeah, hell yeah. Deﬁnitely.
Were the 2000–2002 NBA Finals Shaq at his absolute best?
Yes, I was healthy, having fun, in control, doing it my way. Things were ﬂowing. And we should have won the fourth championship, too, but we didn’t. And then there was the changing of the guard. Every Maﬁa story has it: The old godfather gets taken out by the young godfather, and they shipped me off.
You’ve described how you and Kobe almost got into a ﬁst ﬁght at practice. Do you admire him for not backing down from you?