Kareem did something unheard of in the City of Angels. Back in February of 2000 — the Lakers legend joined the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant coach. Jabbar was on the receiving end of a lot of hate, mostly from die-hard Lakers fans, who had a hard time accepting Kareem as a Clipper.
During the same period, the Lakers boasted one of their all-time great teams, featuring MVP Shaq, young Kobe, Fisher, Horry, Green, and Fox, among others. However, this Laker team had yet to prove themselves on the court and win a championship.
When Shaq left Orlando for Los Angeles in 1996, a lot of people, including some of the all-time Laker greats — expected him to win immediately. Hence, in his fourth year with the Purple & Gold, he was under a lot of pressure to bring the Larry O’Brien to LA. Fortunately for Shaq, his luck was about to change, and the Lakers wound wind up winning the championship that year. Most importantly for him, he’d prove the critics wrong.
Back to Kareem.
During approximately the same time when Kareem had joined the Clippers, they were scheduled to play against their city rivals, the Lakers.
Shaq was off to a great start and wanted to pay respect to Kareem, one of his biggest idols, by making Kareem’s signature skyhook — and that’s when Jabbar made a big mistake:
So I got the ball one time, and I shot a little skyhook, just to pay homage to him. And he put his head down. So now I’m super pissed.Shaq
It was Shaq’s 28th birthday, March 6, 2000 — he was in the best shape of his life and showed this by thoroughly abusing the Clippers that night.
Oh, ok, you are not going to look at me, so I just wanted to let him know — yes, I was in the building, and yes, I was great.”Shaq
The Diesel finished with a career-high 61 points while adding an impressive, 23 boards. Also worth mentioning is that Phil Jackson subbed him out with five minutes left, so there was an opportunity for him to beat MJ’s 69.
He never brought this up in a conversation with Kareem, and there was no need — Shaq was acknowledged as a force to be reckoned with from that point forward. The Lakers won three consecutive championships, and the rest is history.