What Shaq was promised before signing mega-contract with Lakers
The NBA’s landscape was drastically changed back in 1997 when Shaquille O’Neal agreed to take his talents to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers. After his successful first four seasons in the NBA with the Orlando Magic, he was thought of as a difference maker for the Purple and Gold, and could instantly turn them into a serious title contender.
Although he had a number of teams trying to land his services, he chose the Lakers as Jerry West and company had a very intriguing promise to him, including a 17-year-old kid they had their eyes set on that time to pair up with him, according to Reddit User TraeRoyalty.
Before Shaq picked up the pen and signed his contract, Jerry West stopped him to tell him, “I just acquired this 17 year old kid from Charlotte. You and him are going to win 3 or 4 championships together.”
That young kid from the Charlotte Hornets was obviously Kobe Bryant, who the Lakers traded for back during the 1996 draft. West’s claim also held true as O’Neal and The Black Mamba won three titles in a row from 2000 to 2002.
They dominated the competition with their unique combination of a strong inside and outside play, coupled with complimentary role players surrounding them.
However, in 2004, O’Neal was dealt to the Miami Heat as speculations of an ongoing feud between he and Bryant was highly publicized. He went on to win another championship in South Beach, playing alongside a young Dwyane Wade at that time.
Bryant, on the other hand, won two more titles before ending his NBA career after the 2015-16 season, cementing his legacy as one of the best players to ever play the game.
They may have had success even after playing together, but it’s hard not to consider their partnership as the key to setting themselves up for for it, as they learned what it takes to win it all while sharing the court with the other.