Shaquille O’Neal’s book has caused quite a stir and it hasn’t even been released yet. First excerpts surfaced that had O’Neal ripping for Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. Next, it was discovered that O’Neal blames Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak for his departure from the Lakers. Now it’s being reported that O’Neal has a problem with another Lakers big man – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Kareem was never around. And, whenever I did see him, he usually ignored me. The disappointing thing to me was, being in LA all those years and trying to fill those shoes, I would have liked to have a conversation with him.”
Everybody who knows the histories of both of these players knows that they are two very different individuals. Abdul-Jabbar spent most of his professional life secluded from the media and the fans. O’Neal, on the other hand, is one of the most outgoing players the league has ever seen. It’s not to say that one personality is better than the other, they’re simply different.
In response to O’Neal’s declarations from his book Abdul-Jabbar responded with a statement of his own, which he posted on his official Facebook page. In his response Abdul-Jabbar states a variety of reasons why he didn’t ever reach out to help O’Neal during Shaq’s time with the Lakers, but the main one is fairly simple – Shaq never asked.
“As a pro I never approached Shaq because I thought he was pretty successful dunking everything and I assumed he didn’t want my help. Additionally, I was never on the coaching staff of any of his teams. I was never unfriendly to him and I would talk to him, but Shaq was enjoying his success, doing it his way.”
While the personalities are certainly different between the two players, their styles of play were also opposites. Abdul-Jabbar was the ultimate finesse center, using his grace and length to defeat his opponents. O’Neal certainly had some finesse in his game, but was overwhelmingly dominant in a physical nature. Nobody dominated the paint in a sense of physical brutality quite like O’Neal. He was the perfect portrait of the bull in a china shop cliche.
While more and more players are apparently falling victim to the recently retired O’Neal’s wrath, Abdul-Jabbar’s quick response marks the first time any of these ‘victims’ has responded. Whether or not we hear anything else from O’Neal on the topic is yet to be seen, but knowing Shaq it’s probably not a stretch to expect he won’t stay silent for long.