Seventeen years ago today, the Lakers franchise changed drastically. July 18, 1996 was the day where Shaquille O’Neal officially signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal would be the first piece to the puzzle that led to the next Laker dynasty. Four years after acquiring Shaq, the Lakers went on to win the 2000 NBA title, which would be the first of three consecutive titles during Shaq’s tenure in Los Angeles.
Jerry West, who was the Lakers general manager at the time, gave O’Neal an offer he couldn’t refuse. That turned out to be the same summer West traded center Vlade Divac to the Hornets for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant. O’Neal and Bryant would go on to lead the Lakers to three straight NBA championships from 2000-2002. O’Neal won three Finals MVP awards in his time with the Lakers, as well as winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2000.
There’s no doubt that acquiring Superman changed the culture and state of the Lakers forever going forward. O’Neal is one of the most dominant players of all-time, had his jersey retired in the Staples Center this past April.
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