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InsideHoops NBA [HOME] Nov. 22, 2003

Shaquille O'Neal Interview




Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers recently came to New York and beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. After the game, and two other reporters interviewed Shaq and talked about the game as well as the Lakers in general. The only place you'll find the full interview is right here on

Question: Talk about Frank Williams of the Knicks playing well against you tonight.

Shaq: I think he just got lucky, in truth. The true sign of a player is being consistent. Everybody can play well when Shaq, Kobe and Karl come to town. If he plays well tomorrow then I'll look at his game a little bit more seriously. I'll just call it luck tonight.

Question: You and Kobe passed really well tonight.

Shaq: That's the sign of good basketball: guys are open, give them the ball. I've always been a true connoisseur of that, giving guys the ball when I get double-teamed, but he played very well tonight.

Question: How much fun is it playing with all these guys?

Shaq: It's very fun, but it'll be even funner when we become a better team. Right now we're still clicking, and still learning each other, but we're having fun and getting to know each other and it's going to be an excellent year.

Question: How is it with the new guys learning the offense, is that a challenge?

Shaq: It's a little bit. We all just have to learn to do everything right. We have to play against everybody. It's us against the world, so we know we have to do everything right. We make a lot of mistakes, and these teams are pumped up to play against us, and they usually capitalize off our mistakes, so if we learn from our mistakes, then most of the time we usually come out the victor.

Question: Talk about getting to know your new teammates.

Shaq: ...getting to know those guys every day, it's going to be a great year, it's going to be a memorable year

Question: Talk about their mission in their career, and yours.

Shaq: Their mission is to win, our mission is to win. We all have the same mission statement. They are great players and future hall-of-famers. They already got the points and the rebound and the game and experience. They just don't have the ring. And I think I'm the guy who can help them get that.

Question: Talk about what the veterans bring to the locker room and team attitude.

Shaq: It brings a lot of focus to the locker room. A lot of hard work. We get out there, on any given night any one of those guys can be the leading scorer. The pressure doesn't have to be on me and Kobe to always score a lot of points.

Question: Does it feel strange being in the Garden playing against a knicks team that isn't dominant?

Shaq: Not really different, because times change, and you have to expect that. No one stays dominant forever. No organization stays dominant forever. Mr. Ewing's gone, Mr. Oakley's gone, the game has changed, anyway. High school coaches and college coaches are breeding their big guys to step out and shoot jumpers like Doleac. I think I'm one of the last big guys who likes to bang, so when I'm gone, the game's going to be different. The Knicks will probably never be like they used to.

Question: You only play here once a year, is it a fun atmosphere?

Shaq: It's fun because you guys are here, and everybody comes out to watch us play. Spike's here. It's fun. We really needed this game tonight, we didn't want to lose four games in a row on the road. So, it's always fun to come here. Hop across the bridge... see my family. I get to play in front of my friends and family. I think Kurt Thomas has a little bit of that old Knick style of play in him. Everybody else, I think the old-school, mean, hard-nosed Knicks are gone.

Question: Do you ever imagine how your career might have been different had you been a Knick?

Shaq: I know if I would have came here, the outcome probably would have been the same (for me). I know I probably would have won one or two. I know I would have been well-liked.

Question: Can you still learn things from guys like Payton and Malone?

Shaq: Of course you can, those guys are a little bit more experienced than us. We've been lucky enough to win three rings, but those guys are still hall-of-famers and legendary players. And when you already have a strong army, and you get two strong generals, it just makes your army stronger. It just makes your strategic planning stronger.

Question: Does it surprise you how well Malone can still play at his age, and the shape he's in?

Shaq: It doesn't surprise me, because he represents the old school. The true essence of basketball. The guys that are coming in now, that shit ain't basketball. Karl Malone, Gary Payton, myself, we're like some of the last true basketball. Now you got some guys coming in, they play high school, they have a little bit of a highlight film, all of a sudden they're great players. They're trying to make the LeBron-Carmelo thing like Magic and Bird. But, (as for Malone), he works hard, he plays hard, and he's good.

Question: Are you the last great center?

Shaq: Yes, I am. Yes, I know I am. Because that's how I was raised. I was raised to be big, to be mean. A lot of guys don't like that banging. They learn how to shoot. I never really learned how to shoot, because I was told to get down there and shoot it off the glass. And when I got older, dunk dunk dunk, jump-hook jump-hook, and that's what I like. I can step out there and shoot that jumper, but, if I was a fan coming in to watch me play, I wouldn't pay all that money for those front row seats to watch a guy 340-pounds shoot jumpers. I would want him to back Mutumbo down and dunk in his face.

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