Former NBA center Shaquille O’Neal recalled on Inside the NBA playing with LeBron James in Cleveland.
Despite that Shaq’s best years were way past him, he sounded like he enjoyed the ride.
“It surprised me how great of a leader he was,” O’Neal said. “This was the first time in my career when I didn’t have to beat people up, didn’t have to say anything.”
O’Neal admitted that he didn’t even have to be “himself”, carrying the team as usual, as James was already “running things” in Cleveland.
“This was the first time in my career, when I could sit back and say ‘okay, King, you’re on’,” O’Neal recalled.
O’Neal was traded from Phoenix to Cleveland in 2009. During his press conference in Cleveland at the time O’Neal said his “motto is very simple – win a ring for the King”. This never happened.
O’Neal spent an injury-plagued season in Cleveland, but regained his health in time for the playoffs. He was acquired to give the Cavs a stronger low-post presence, especially against a center such as Orlando’s Dwight Howard. The Cavs, however, were eliminated in the second round by the Celtics – the team where O’Neal would be traded to the following season.
O’Neal appeared in 53 games for the Cavs, averaging 12 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.2 bpg in 23.4 mpg.
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