Reflecting on the last few years of his NBA career, Shaquille O’Neal remembers going from team to team with the hopes of winning more championships. He wouldn’t advise LeBron James to do the same though. Shaq says that LeBron has nothing to prove and should approach his looming free agency with a different focus.
In an interview with ESPN, Shaq said that LeBron is already a legend and doesn’t need more championship rings to justify his status. James could likely go to any team he chooses, but Cleveland’s two-time franchise player could be swayed by comparisons to Michael Jordan’s six championships. Shaq wants his former teammate to remember that there is now and that there will only ever be one LeBron James.
Shaq was chasing a fifth NBA title when he bounced around to Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston. He had already earned a fourth ring and when his critics challenged him to get more, the All-Star center admitted to being ego-driven. He suspects that LeBron is having similar thoughts.
“My problem toward the end of my career was I was trying to shut everybody up and I was greedy [for more championships],” O’Neal told ESPN on Friday evening. “After I got to three [titles], everybody was saying I couldn’t get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn’t get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it.”
In his quest, Shaq came up empty. He ended his 19-year career with four rings and learned a valuable lesson that he hopes to pass on to LeBron. The basketball phenom has 15 years in the league under his belt and has solidified his place in history. The fact that LeBron is even mentioned in the same breath as His Airness is proof of that. Shaq said that while winning more championships would be great, getting another ring should not be LeBron’s endgame.
“But if I was him, I wouldn’t be trying to get four, five and six because it ain’t going to matter. It’s just something else to talk about, something else to add to the pages. He’s a legend, talked about as who is the best between he and Michael Jordan, so he’s set.”
LeBron has until June 29 to decide whether or not he will re-sign with the Cavaliers or declare his free agency. Shaq said that if LeBron decides to go after that fourth ring, he shouldn’t stay in Cleveland. Sweeping Cleveland in the 2018 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors have a roster that is setting them up to be a basketball dynasty. Perhaps if LeBron can’t beat Golden State, he should join them.