Shaquille O’Neal Says Lakers Threatened to Trade Him If He Didn’t Win 2004 NBA Finals

Jonathan Sherman
2 Min Read

Shaquille O’Neal’s epic career with the Los Angeles Lakers came to an end when he was traded following the 2003-04 season.

However, according to O’Neal, he learned that his time in L.A. was at risk of coming to an end prior to the 2004 NBA Finals. He explained the situation to Chris Broussard and Rob Parker on Fox Sports Radio.

“It was told to me that if we don’t win the series, I’m out of there,” O’Neal said.

Broussard then went on to make sure that he and his listeners understood precisely was the star big man was saying.

“It was told you before the series started?” he asked.

O’Neal was happy to clarify.

“Yes, from somebody upstairs in the office, ‘Hey, if you don’t win this series, they’re looking to make changes,'” he said. “So, I knew once we lose that it was time for me to do something else.”

The 2004 NBA Finals is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in league history. The Lakers had won in 2000, 2001 and 2002 before missing out on a chance to extend their three-peat in 2003.

When a ragtag Detroit Pistons team came out of the Eastern Conference in 2004, fans and experts alike widely expected the star-studded Lakers squad to roll them over.

However, that ended up not being the case. The defensive-minded Pistons won the series 4-1. That summer, O’Neal was shipped off to the Miami Heat.

Luckily, the O’Neal trade ended up working out quite well for both the Lakers and the Hall of Fame big man.

O’Neal went on to win another title with the Heat in 2006. The Lakers went on to win titles in both 2009 and 2010.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.