From the outside, everyone knew Shaq and Kobe were done because the Lakers couldn’t afford both. Now we know the entire ’03/’04 season, the locker room was toxic. The Lakers had to make a decision, and Shaq knew it wasn’t going to be him. But the Lakers knew they had to do right by him, so they asked Shaq where does he want to go. The answer was Miami.
Shaq’s main reason was Dwyane Wade. O’Neal understood the young shooting guard was special, and he could win the Larry O’ with him. But Shaq also understood basketball had to become his no.1 priority. He vowed to Heat fans he would bring a championship to Miami. In his first year with the Heat, Shaq played in 73 games, his most since the ’00/’01 season, averaged 22.9 points a game along with 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Next season, in ’05/’06, Shaq delivered his promise. The Miami Heat became NBA champions. O’Neal proved he could win without the Lakers and Kobe, thus cementing his legacy as one of the best big men in NBA history. You’d think that crown achievement would be his favorite memory from Miami, and you’d be wrong.
Can you blame Haslem? Trying to stop Shaq is a very risky proposition as is. The only man to get in Shaq’s face when he’s furious, and get him “on my tippy toes” was Jerry West. But even West probably wouldn’t get in if Shaq didn’t have any clothes on. We didn’t find out what got Wright so mad, but going after a naked Shaq in the shower – it must’ve been something serious.
This is perfectly on-brand for Shaq. Always in the mood for a good laugh. Many people feel like this is what limited Shaq’s career – not taking things seriously enough. Shaq’s dedication to pranks and a sense of humor is not an indicator of how much he cared about winning. His weight probably was.