The Los Angeles Lakers are a storied franchise and were always able to attract all-star players easier than other teams in the NBA. In the past 20 years, when they won 5 championships, their management was terrific run by former players, and one of the architects for the success of the Lakers was none other than their own legend Jerry West.
In a recent interview on “Things First: Cris Carter and Nick Wright” show, Shaq said how important it is for a team to have a visionary that is in the position to assemble a group of players and coaching staff capable of winning a championship.
O’Neal used an example of how Jerry West approached him back in the summer of 1996 when he was a free agent, and many teams expressed their interest in his services. At that time, big contracts were slowly entering the NBA, and O’Neal was aiming to get the most out of that change in the financial landscape of the league. Jerry West was also aware of what needs to be done in order to get Shaquille on board.
“Jerry West got me during the Olympics, and it was so smooth how he did it. He said he knows he never talked to me before, and I know Orlando Magic is offering you that, and I can offer you this. I looked, and I saw 98 million dollars and said I like that mister West, but that is not enough because I understand business. He asked what I number was I looking for, and I said 150 million because that day, I saw Alonzo signed for 115 million, and Juwan Howard signed for 105 million. So he was smooth, and he was wearing his Versace housecoat & gangster pipe. Said can’t do 150, but I can do this. I opened the envelope, and it was 120M. Said Mr. West, I’m good now. I never talked about how smooth he was.”