“Big men are hard to find” - Michael Jordan would have forced Shaquille O'Neal to stay on the Lakers despite Kobe Bryant beef
2024/04/02

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During the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal era, the LA Lakers achieved a three-peat by winning the NBA Championship from 2000 to 2002. However, their success was marred by ongoing issues between Bryant and O'Neal, resulting in O'Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 after their loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

In a 2005 interview with Cigar Aficionado's Marvin R. Shanken, Michael Jordan shared his perspective on the trade. Jordan believed that the Lakers made a mistake by letting go of O'Neal, stating, "I would have never gotten rid of Shaq. You've got three championships with a big man, and big men are hard to find.

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Jordan emphasized the importance of having a dominant big man like O'Neal and highlighted the difficulty in finding such players. He argued that the Lakers should have found a way to manage the issues between Bryant and O'Neal because of the success they had achieved together.

While Jordan acknowledged that he wasn't present in the Lakers' locker room, he believed that both Bryant and O'Neal were responsible for the issues. He stated, "It's a combination of both of them... Personalities got involved after they'd had some success. It becomes about individuals—individual goals that they wanted to achieve.

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According to Jordan, the problem lay in both players chasing individual success rather than prioritizing team unity. He questioned the need for change when they had a winning formula, saying, "What's the purpose of changing if you've got the right mixture that's working?"

After O'Neal's departure, the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in ten years. However, Bryant went on to win two more championships in 2009 and 2010. O'Neal also found success with the Miami Heat, winning a championship in 2006.

Jordan's perspective resonated with Lakers fans, who felt that Bryant and O'Neal should have remained together.

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They believed that the breakup deprived them of witnessing the potential number of championships the duo could have won.

Michael Jordan expressed his belief that the Lakers made a mistake by trading Shaquille O'Neal. He emphasized the value of having a dominant big man like O'Neal and questioned the need for individual success over team unity. Lakers fans also share this sentiment, regretting the missed opportunity for more championships.

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