Shaquille O’Neal reveals Lakers told him he’d be traded if they lost 2004 Finals to Pistons
Just when you thought discussing the Los Angeles Lakers trading Shaquille O’Neal in 2004 was beating a dead horse, another little nugget comes out.
During a podcast interview with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker, O’Neal said that the Lakers actually told him changes were going to be made if the club lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals:
“The same thing that was going on in this documentary (“The Last Dance”) was going on with me,” said O’Neal. “It was told to me that if we don’t win the series, I’m out of there.”
Broussard then asked O’Neal if that was told to him before the Finals against the Pistons started:
“Yes, from somebody upstairs in the office, ‘Hey, if you don’t win this series, they’re looking to make changes,'” said O’Neal. “I knew once we lost that it was time for me to do something else.”
Of course, the rest is history.
Los Angeles lost to Detroit and traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat that ensuing summer, receiving Lamar Odom and other pieces in return. Shaq proceeded to win a championship with Dwyane Wade on the Heat a couple of years later.
It was rough sailing for the Lakers in their first season without O’Neal, as they missed the playoffs during the 2004-05 campaign. However, just a few years later, LA was back in the NBA Finals thanks to a trio of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Odom, falling to the Boston Celtics in 2008. The Lakers then went on to win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
Hearing stories about the Shaq-Kobe Lakers will never get old, and it’s a good time to revisit these tales with ESPN showing “The Last Dance.” The breakups of the Lakers and ’90s Chicago Bulls certainly have some parallels.