Shaq admits: « I shook LeBron less than Kobe, and here’s why »
During his immense career, Shaquille O’Neal had the opportunity to evolve alongside Kobe Bryant, but also LeBron James. However, the King would have had the right to a bigger preferential treatment than the rear… for a very simple reason, which impressed the Big Diesel at the time.
Not only Shaquille O’Neal has been able to accumulate trophies in spades on the floors of the big league, but he has also managed to surround himself with players who have become legendary. If we had to choose three stars with whom he was teammate, it would probably be Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, chronologically. Apart from the case of the King, he ended up winning with everyone! All while always being the alpha male of its workforce.
As such, he therefore unsurprisingly contributed a great deal to the development of his teammates, who were still young when they played alongside him. As he explained in his 2011 autobiography, however, he did it very differently for each of them. Above all, he claimed then that he had practically nothing to do in the case of one of them, while Vino took the sauce with him!
LeBron already had “everything figured out” according to the Shaq
I always tell people that when it comes to being tough on young stars and shaking them down, on a scale of 1 to 10, I was a 10 with Kobe, at 4 with D-Wade and at 1 with LeBron. I didn’t tell LeBron, I didn’t need to. He had understood very young how to work and perform at the highest level.
This may seem surprising, but we must remember one thing above all: O’Neal rubbed shoulders with these legends at very different stages of their respective careers. The Mamba, for example, arrived in the league the year he signed with the Lakers, and he therefore saw the back take his first steps. Having already four years of experience and being the boss of the squad, he was inevitably more on the back of his teammate… who did not always appreciate, given the sometimes too detached attitude of the Shaqtus.
Conversely, when the latter signed in Cleveland in 2009, LBJ already had several seasons in the legs and had just won its first MVP title. Accustomed to pressure and being the No. 1 from an early age, the Chosen One quickly impressed with his maturity and outstanding basketball IQ. Shaq meanwhile was nearing the end and therefore couldn’t logically treat him the same as Vino.
Interestingly, another member of the 2003 draft class earned praise from Big Diesel. As mentioned earlier, he also had a very good experience with Dwyane Wade. As a result, he was content to steer it in certain directions:
Wade was a good listener. I was not as strict with him as with Kobe. Instead of being on his back, I was like, « Hey, mate, maybe you should try that. »
LeBron was already further along in his career than Kobe, and therefore did not necessarily need advice from Shaquille O’Neal. It’s still pretty strong though from the winger, who was still only 25 when the Hall of Famer landed in Ohio!