This post was written by Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland. Shaquille O’Neal is one of the best players to ever play in the NBA, he’s won championships with Kobe Bryant, he’s won a title with Dwyane Wade and now Shaq is looking to do the same thing with LeBron James.
After the Cavs were ousted by the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, Cleveland needed to improve their roster and get tougher inside. So what did the Cavs do? Among other moves, they also went and got one of the most dominant interior players to ever play in the NBA to try and help LeBron and the Cavscapture that elusive Championship ring. His message was simple when he came to Cleveland for his introductory press conference: “Win a ring for the King.” Everyone in Cleveland and the entire organization is hoping that Shaq is the missing piece to the Championship puzzle.
Shaquille O’Neal joined The John Thompson Show on ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. to talk about the impact that he can have on the Cavs this season, playing with LeBron James and whether or not they can win an NBA Title this year.
On the impact he can have on the Cavs:
“I think I can help LeBron get a little bit better. I know that I’m going help guys like Anderson Varejao and all the shooters get better. I’m 37, I’m in good shape and I still think I command a double team. I’ve always taken pride in hitting the open guys and being a good passer, so hopefully guys will feed off LeBron and myself. The number one thing to winning a championship is the belief. I think now that the guys have the final piece that they’ve been missing, the belief is there. I remember my first seven or eight years where we could almost win, almost win, then when I got with the great Phil Jackson, he instilled the belief in us. Then I left there, went to Miami and the great Pat Riley instilled the belief in us. Belief is like the first part and now that I’m here, I think the guys really have that belief.”
On sacrificing individual accolades for the team:
“You just have to look at the history of the game. How many guys in the history of the game have done it by themselves? I’m going to go on record and say no one. When I was coming up they always talk about two great players and some teams for example like Coach Riley’s great Lakers teams also had other great players that were the role players, but most of the championship teams that I’ve seen always have that one and two player. For example Magic and Kareem, Bird and McHale, Scotty and Mike, Shaq and Kobe, Shaq and D-Wade, David Robinson and Tim Duncan, so nobody can really do it by themselves. Us young guys, when we come in we want to make a mark for ourself and I admit we’re a little bit selfish. When I came in I was very selfish, I wanted to be the leading scorer in the league, wanted my name to be noticed, but then when you start getting badgered about not winning a championship, then you have to really take a look in the mirror, take a step back and say OK I have to sacrifice some of this for betterment of the team.”
On what’s so impressive about LeBron James:
“The most impressive thing to me is he’s always been an all-around player. I always tell a story. Ron Harper, who was my teammate, was ready to play Cleveland so we go about an hour down the road to watch this new phenom kid. First play of the game, LeBron goes to the hole, he could’ve thrown it down, he was way better than the competition, but he kicked it to a guy in the corner, who probably went to college, but definitely won’t make the league, but that game he only had like 14 or 15 points when he easily could’ve had 50 or 60. I knew he was an all-around player. Most young kids at that position at that time they cross-over dribble, stutter step, score, score, shoot, shoot, shoot, but he had the all-around game by the age of 16 which I thought was very impressive.”
On how good of a team the Cavs are:
“We’re very good. We have all the pieces to win it all. It’s too early to tell right now. From my experience it’s been a goal to not really talk about it. You have to have all the factors in place, you have to have home-court advantage, everyone has to be healthy and you’ve got to have a little bit of luck. I will be the first to tell you even though I’ve got four championships, three of them luck was on our side. The Derek Fisher with 0.4, the Robert Horry in L.A against Sacramento with the shot at the top of the key and the Gary Payton in the Finals vs. Miami when he hit the baseline jumper. If you have all the factors in place and you have luck on your side anything is possible.”