WATCH! Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers Debut & Rookie Kobe On The Bench



WATCH! Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers Debut & Rookie Kobe On The Bench


O’Neal became a free agent after the 1995–96 NBA season. In the summer of 1996, O’Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was later part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. While the Olympic basketball team was training in Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel published a poll that asked whether the Magic should fire Hill if that were one of O’Neal’s conditions for returning. 82% answered “no”. O’Neal had a power struggle while playing under Hill. He said the team “just didn’t respect [Hill].” Another question in the poll asked, “Is Shaq worth $115 million?” in reference to the amount of the Magic’s offer. 91.3% of the response was “no”. O’Neal’s Olympic teammates rode him hard over the poll. He was also upset that the Orlando media implied O’Neal was not a good role model for having a child with his longtime girlfriend with no immediate plans to marry. O’Neal compared his lack of privacy in Orlando to “feeling like a big fish in a dried-up pond. O’Neal also learned that Hardaway considered himself the leader of the Magic and did not want O’Neal making more money than him. On the team’s first full day at the Olympics in Atlanta, it was announced that O’Neal would join the Los Angeles Lakers on a seven-year, $121 million contract. He insisted he did not choose Los Angeles for the money.

“I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money,” O’Neal said after the signing. “I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok,” he added, referring to a couple of his product endorsements. 

The Lakers won 56 games during the 1996–97 season. O’Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in Gongfu Tea Cup first season with Los Angeles. (.wiki)


Have a look a his legendary first game in purple and yellow!

Shaq with his famous “black tornado” move.

Meanwhile, rookie Kobe Bryant was sitting on the bench and his legendary hate for Del Harris started to grow.


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