Photo by Lucy Nicholson | Getty Images

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific memory to define Shaquille O’Neal. The fact that most basketball fans can remember him in the context of their own lives should prove to be a testiment of his legacy as a player.

Whether you were watching him tear down backboards like no one before or since, or sat glued to your grainy, pre-HD television as Kobe lobbed a thunderous alley-oop to cement their first trip to the NBA Finals, Shaq’s “larger than life” persona on and off the court was one that we will probably never see again.

Many will look to that same persona as the same one that caused the rift between him and Kobe Bryant that halted their title run at three. For years after the Laker-Heat trade that sent the embittered Shaq to Miami, the two rarely positively acknowledged one another, only clearing the air in the last few years as the two shared Co-MVP honors during the 2009 All-Star Game.

Still though, Shaq contended in an interview with J.A. Adande  that the premature departure from Los Angeles left a lot of champioships on the table:

“I don’t like to live in a world of ifs,” Shaq said. “But if we would have stayed, possibly we could have got six.”

Despite their personal alpha-dog conflicts, Shaq himself will tell you that Bryant was the best he had ever played with in his time in the NBA, as he did with the Sporting News in 2009:

“Most ferocious was Kobe. Fiercest, most competitive, it was Kobe. D-Wade is second after that.”

In the context of Lakers lore, Shaq is in no way the greatest Laker. Looking at it, he isn’t even the greatest import when considering the work that Kareem Abdul-Jabaar put in during the 1970s and Showtime era of the 1980s. With three championships and an MVP trophy during his tenure with the purple and gold, though, it’s hard not to glorify Shaq in his prime, players bouncing off of his bedsheet-sized jersey as he muscled his way to the basket.

  • Paveldementiev

    the nba will miss Shaq

  • Anonymous

     My aunt said to me the other day, “You know, if Shaq had worked half as hard as Kobe…” I said, “What do you mean? Shaq DID work half as hard as Kobe!!!”
    D-Brick brought it up in the last podcast. Shaq left L.A. a lazy, overweight, half-assed player, went to Miami and worked his ass off to help win a championship. It was insulting. If he’d put in that type of effort here, “Kobe vs. Shaq” would be nothing more than an interesting background story to one of the great sports dynasties of all time.
    It’s nice to now acknowledge what you had with Kobe. It would be nicer to have appreciated it when you still had it. I think even Kobe would have to have respected Shaq as the alpha dog if he had seen that Shaq was putting in the work to maintain that status, not just demanding it all the time because…well, just because.
    Thanks for what you gave us, Shaq. I really appreciate what you did, but I can’t help but wonder if what you didn’t do spoke more about you. As great as you were, to this Laker fan, you will always be “The Big What-If”.

    • yoyoma

      If you look at Shaqs numbers from 2000-2003 its difficult to say Shaq didn´t work hard.  They are unreal, Dwight Howard doesn´t come close.  Shaq was also beat up by 5 different players every game, while Howard gets single coverage by Pachulia and Collins.  The Big What If?  3 Peat, Finals appearance the next year?  Its a tough league, esp. to win 3 in a row.  Shaq had a stellar career with Lakers organization, we should all be thankful for that.

      • Anonymous

        That was my point, though. ’00-’03 was when he was working, then he got lazy and Kobe couldn’t deal with that. And I’m not just bringing up the ‘what if’ thing, I’m just responding to Shaq.

  • laffsatu

    shaq is shaq and will be missed,kobe is just a stats whore .EVERYONE except BRYANT loves shaq.

    • shaqattack

      Dude, they made amends a long time ago. Don’t make generalizations you know nothing about. If Kobe was a stats whore, he’d be nagging Phil to let him play out the fourth quarter during blowouts (i.e. Chris Paul). He’s not a stats whore, he just gets really good stats.

      • Anonymous

        Don’t feed the Attention Whore.

        • laffsatu

          242, whos the bigger snitch…you or kobe?

          • Anonymous

            Depends, we measuring by height or by girth?
            You never did say before; you figure out how Kobe’s ass taste yet, or you still trying to savor the flavor?

          • laffsatu

            if your boyfriend bryant is so great , where is he?WADE LEBRONZE,and DIRK are the face of the NBA….finals are fun to watch this year, wonder why?.Wheres your JORDAN wannabe?gone fishin?way to pick a loser ….loser.

          • yoyoma

            your memory is short.  kobe won the last two NBA finals.  The only teams to win back to back titles in the last decade have been lead by Kobe.  

            Love Shaq as well.  Congrats on a great career!

          • Anonymous

            So the faces of the NBA have 1 championship between them, but the guy with 5 rings is a loser…ummm…okay.
            Answer my question, though. How Kobe ass taste? You keep talking about Kobe, you keep bringing shit up, but you won’t ever answer any argument anyone makes. You spout the same lame lines over and over again, but when people actually introduce facts, you go quiet or you just regurgitate another line. How do you figure you’re winning in all this?
            Wait, are you really Charlie Sheen?

          • laffsatu

            Lets see i guess you watched MIAMI beat the team that SWEPT  your lazy , dumb, slow , kobe as your leader LAKERS?Did you see the game ?It`s a fact the heat for a second time beat the team that SWEPT your L.A. bryants

          • Anonymous

            Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

          • Anonymous

            Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

          • laffsatu

            whats weaker, your game or kobes excuses?

          • Anonymous

            Your grip on reality.
            Oh, and your grasp of basic English grammar and punctuation. It’s like arguing with a six-year-old.

          • laffsatu

            so like kobe?

          • Anonymous

            See, that’s what I mean. Without proper punctuation that could be read three or four different ways, with a different meaning each time.

          • Mikesmith

            shut up you moron..whining like a baby

      • Basdeo1

        so true shaqattack!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Rodriguez/1603357004 Chris Rodriguez

    Actually it’s pretty easy to pinpoint a specific memory to define shaq: “PAY ME!!!!” and “I got hurt on company time, so I will heal on company time.” That says it all.

    • laffsatu

      specific memory for kobe…..sitting next to vanessa telling the world he`s a filthy cheater.licking those lips…that says it all….hows shaqs ass taste??

      • Ok, laffsatu

        Im sure you know how Shaq’s ass taste.

  • Joshua Adrian

    WE COULD’VE BEEN THE 1990’s BULLS.. SIX CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A DECADE.

    • Jayr_dayao

      yeah right.. 2k version of the 90’s Bulls

      • Juan Dela Cruz

        WEH?! Dami mong alam ang bobo mo naman. NDI MO BA ALAM UNG DALAWANG  3PEAT.. STOP-ED.

        • Jayr_dayao

          huh? eepal ka hindi mo ba naintindihan yun? sana ang Lakers ang naging 1990’s Bulls kasi baka sakaling magchampion pa sila ng 3 times pa for a total of 6 championships

      • Anonymous

         …what HE said. :|

  • Pingback: Poderíamos Ter Ganhado 6 títulos « LakersBR – O site de noticias do Los Angeles Lakers no Brasil

  • Dollardog22

    Same old Shaq saying things that don’t really count . If he looks in the mirror he was the main reason because of wanting out of L.A. that he didn’t get and Lakers didn’t win more titles . Too Bad we have to listen to the Big Incoherent 

  • Ok, Shaq

    I know, Shaq.  We could’ve gotten 6 Rings, if you didn’t show up like a 375lb of pig lard during training camp.

    Could’ve gotten 6 ‘ships, if you didn’t heal on company time because of your ugly ass toe.

    Just sayin’, Shaq.  Just sayin’.    Like you always do.

    • The Real Laker Fan

      What a loser you are. I sure would like to be there when you said that to Shaq’s face. Oh, i’m sorry I forgot. You’re just a weaner with a computer and a big mouth. Kobe will never be the greatest. That title belongs to The Magic Man.

      • Don’t Insult the Lakers

        Some butt hurt Shaq/Magic fan looking for ways to defend his idol, while calling someone else “a weaner with a computer and a big mouth”
        LMAO.  You made my day “Real Laker Fan”

        You call yourself that by saying, “Kobe will never be the greatest”? So you can see the Future? 

        Kobe spent his whole career here.  And he will probably get his own Statue too. 

        Does that give you nightmares now?   LOL

  • Laker Forever

    lick balls shaq!

  • Anonymous

    As much as I bagged on Shaq over his career, he was pretty awesome. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6UUB3RDMO3B5TJSHHEVVFJ32AM Cecil

    Shaq seems to be a great person but i feel he says what he thinks is popular for the moment. Kobe/Wade/Nash cannot all be the best player he teamed with so i take what he says now with a grain of salt. I do not hate him because he did give the Lakers the best he had to offer and helped to get 3 Titles. Lets remember the good times and not dwell so much on the bad, its enough of that going around for everyone. Sports should be for enjoyment not senseless hate.