11th September 12:41
Shaq says he made Kobe and Penny
"Believe it or not," the All-Star center said shortly after he was traded
from the Lakers to the Heat, "I was thinking of buying a house down in that
area anyway. This is a blessing in disguise.
"I always take my kids down to Fort Lauderdale and rent a boat and go in the
ocean, and I wanted to buy a house down there anyway. Everything happens for
a reason. This is just destiny."
"I think the thing that impressed me most is simply this: `I want to be in
Miami and I want to start again and I want to win a championship and I want
to finish my career in South Florida,'" Riley said of O'Neal's response. "He
was very emphatic about that, and I didn't have to drag that out of him.
"He absolutely disarmed me of any kind of intimidation, and he simply said,
`I want to be in Miami. I can't wait to get to Miami.'"
When O'Neal initially placed the Heat on his short list of preferred trade
destinations, the thought was it would be the second-best option to being
able to stay year-round in his massive Orlando home.
But O'Neal said it was much more than that. While he wanted to leave the
Lakers behind, he also wanted to retain his title hopes.
"The direction they were moving in wasn't the direction I wanted to be in,
so I just wanted to go to another contender," he said. "Miami is definitely
a contender. With me now, it makes us even more of a contender. I'm looking
to do great things with the Heat.
"I look forward to coming down there and helping that city become a media
"Everyone talks about a power shift to the west. It's very difficult," he
said. "The Eastern Conference, outside of [Indiana's] Jermaine O'Neal, it's
not going to be that difficult to me."
O'Neal also spoke of being reunited with former Lakers teammate Eddie Jones
("We're family"), of the Heat's free-agent addition of center Michael Doleac
("I've finally got a backup now. I played in L.A. eight years without a
backup") and of getting away from constant criticism of his conditioning ("A
couple guys from the Lakers organization kept putting that out there").
Earlier, before picking up his cell phone, O'Neal sat down for an interview
with ESPN, touching on several subjects.
His new team: "I'm probably one of the pieces that they've been missing."
A South Florida goal: "You know what I'm going to do in Miami for Christmas?
I'm going to bring the kids some snow. I don't know how I'm going to do it
yet, but I'm going to do it."
Making Dwyane Wade as successful a partner as Penny Hardaway was in Orlando
and Kobe Bryant was in Los Angeles: "This is another young point guard that
I get to help raise, because I raised two of 'em and made 'em great, so I
know I can raise a third one."
Retaining focus: "I know Miami's a mini-L.A., there's South Beach and all
that, but I'm not coming down there for that."
His impact: "The Benz on the highway, I-95 going to Miami, chilling --
that's me. I'm a Benz."