Lakers Legend Shaquille O’Neal Defends LeBron James For Criticizing Distracted Teammates

LeBron James #23 and Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars smile on the bench in the final moments of the East's win over the Western Conference All-Stars the 54th All-Star Game, part of 2005 NBA All-Star Weekend at Pepsi Center on February 20, 2005 in Denver, Colorado.
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The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t been the same since they became the center of trade rumors before the February NBA trade deadline. Though the deal with the New Orleans Pelicans centered on Anthony Davis didn’t materialize, it seems like most of the Lakers’ players have yet to move on, causing a noticeable effect their recent games. After suffering an embarrassing defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies, LeBron James couldn’t help himself from calling out some of his teammates who are allowing distractions to affect their on-court performance.

LeBron James earned criticisms for his recent statements, but there are some people who expressed support for the Lakers superstar, including NBA Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal, who won three NBA championship titles with the Lakers, told James’ teammates to stop thinking about the things that happened before the February NBA trade deadline and start focusing on the remaining games in the 2018-19 NBA season.

“It’s no time to sit and sulk,” O’Neal said, according to Yahoo Sports. “If you don’t want to be traded or you don’t want to be talked about, step up. LeBron is used to playing with guys who hit shots and make him look good. He’s not having that right now.”

Shaquille O’Neal reminded LeBron James’ teammates that the NBA is a business. If they want to prevent themselves from being mentioned in trade rumors, O’Neal said that they need to prove that they deserve to stay.

“Look, I was traded six times,” O’Neal said. “I never cried about it. You move on. It’s the business of basketball. If you want to be a guy who doesn’t get traded, you’ve got to step up. Period.”

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Aside from Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers legend James Worthy also offered some harsh words to LeBron James’ teammates, saying that “some type of virus” has been infecting the team. While O’Neal didn’t mention any specific name, Worthy called out Lakers veteran point guard Rajon Rondo whom he thinks is “not mentally in the game.” In the Lakers’ back-to-back losses, Rajon Rondo played poorly, only scoring a combined nine points against the Pelicans and the Grizzlies and committed seven turnovers.

Shaquille O’Neal and James Worthy know that the Lakers can do much better than what they showed in their previous games if they regain focus and stay away from distractions. As of now, the Lakers are in the eleventh spot in the Western Conference, three games behind the eighth seed San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers’ next game will be against the Pelicans on Wednesday night at Staples Center.