The 10 greatest L.A. Lakers of all time -- No. 9:
Continuing our series of the 10 greatest L.A. Lakers of all time, as chosen by our readers.
No. 9: Shaquille O'Neal (no first-place votes, 21,926 points)
O'Neal, one of the more polarizing figures in Lakers history, joined the team in 1996 as a free agent. O'Neal averaged 26.2 and 28.3 points in his first two seasons with the team, seasons that ended in playoff losses to the Utah Jazz.
Along came Kobe Bryant, beginning a tumultuous relationship that ended badly. But before the final breakup, the Lakers won three NBA titles with the Shaq-Kobe tandem leading the way. Shaq was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times (2000-02) and won the NBA most valuable player award after the 1999-2000 season.
After the Lakers' loss to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, O'Neal made comments indicating that he felt all team management cared about was making Bryant happy, to the detriment of the team. He demanded a trade and was sent to the Miami Heat on July 14, 2004, for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and two draft picks, one of whom was used to select Jordan Farmar.
On the Lakers' career leaders list, O'Neal is second in field-goal percentage (57.5%), fifth in rebounds (6,090), second in blocked shots (1,278), seventh in points (13,895), second in points per game (27.0) and fifth in rebounds per game (11.8).
-- Houston Mitchell
No. 10: Jerry Buss
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal with the Lakers in 2001. Credit: Los Angeles Times.