This time, Shaq is the fool.
It’s impossible to question Shaquille O’Neal’s ability on the basketball court. He’s one of the all-time great centers and was nearly unstoppable for a three-year stretch when he averaged over 27 points and the Los Angeles Lakers won three straight NBA titles.
Then, there’s Shaq, the basketball analyst. That guy isn’t as dominant and his takes can often be questioned — if you can hear them over his trademark mumble.
But in the case of LeBron James, Shaq not only mumbled his take, but fumbled it.
As you know, the Lakers stink to the high heavens. They’re so bad there’s a chance they might not make the playoffs, let alone the play-in game.
There were reports that the Lakers were mad at LeBron for a lot of ill-fated, poorly timed quotes at the All-Star Game in Cleveland. LeBron put out to the media that he would be open to returning to Cleveland, and that he would go to any team to play with his son, Bronny, if and when he gets to the NBA.
To add insult to injury, James went out of his way to praise other NBA GMs, a clear shot at Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, who didn’t make a move at the trade deadline to improve Los Angeles’ roster and James’ chances at winning another NBA title.
It rubbed a lot of fans in L.A. the wrong way. Even longtime L.A. Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke wrote a column saying the Lakers should cut their losses and trade LeBron.
Somehow, Shaq, the former Lakers star, hinted that the Lakers would forever be cursed if they traded James away. “If you trade LeBron, you’ll never win again,” O’Neal said of the Lakers in an interview with CNBC.
Can you say, over the top?
We get it. James is having a great season. Coming into Tuesday, he’d played 43 games, averaging 29 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists. In fact, it’s phenomenal if you throw in it’s his 19th season in the NBA and he’s 37 years old.
He’s way out of a basketball player’s prime, but still playing like a primetime player.
There’s just one problem. James doesn’t impact winning like he used to. In his best days, scoring 30 points meant you had a great shot at winning the game, not just filling the stat sheet.
But it’s just not the case. On Sunday, James had 32 points against the New Orleans Pelicans. But it was just another embarrassing “L.” The Pelicans blew out the Lakers by 28 points and in L.A.
The crowd booed the Lakers off the court. It was such a scene that James, Trevor Ariza and Russell Westbrook all got into verbal spats with fans sitting court side. It was ugly, indeed.
As has been the Lakers’ season thus far. The Lakers are 27-33 and have lost nine of their last 12 games. They sit in the ninth spot in the Western Conference.
For sure, most are surprised at how bad they are. To be fair, Anthony Davis has been hurt a lot this season. But, then again, many NBA analysts predicted that the addition of Westbrook and a veteran roster wouldn’t fit together. And clearly, it hasn’t.
It’s understandable why Shaq wants to give James respect for all his accomplishments in his career, including four titles with three different franchises.
Still, it seems like a stretch to think the Lakers are winning a title anytime soon — even with LeBron in the fold. LeBron has value and could bring the Lakers some good players to start a rebuild. The last thing you want is to hold onto an old player and ultimately get nothing for him. It’s best to trade a guy a year too early than a year too late (see the 80s Celtics).
It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to trade a living legend.
Great players have been traded/sold since the beginning of time. It doesn’t mean the death of a franchise. For sure, that guy will be missed, but it’s hardly the end of the world.
Shaq’s take on LeBron was clearly not a rim-rocking dunk from his playing days. It was another one of his horrible free throws he was famous for. That’s why he’s a headliner on Shaqtin’ a Fool.
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