This is going to sound like a made-up stat, but it is not: Russell Westbrook credited Shaquille O’Neal for more of his limited successes with the Lakers this season than he did his actual head coach, Frank Vogel.
Way back in February, Westbrook credited O’Neal for tips the legendary big man gave him during the team’s win over the Orlando Magic, saying that “Shaq was giving me some good advice about changing speeds at different times coming up the floor, which was very helpful not just in that game but as I watch myself moving forward and trying to continue doing that the rest of the year.” That almost certainly more credit than he ever gave Vogel, who he beefed with all year. That also means that Shaq (1-0) unofficially surpassed Bernie Bickerstaff (.800) for the highest winning percentage in Lakers history (1.00).
And in a great news, it turns out that in the (unlikely) event that the team keeps Westbrook around next season, O’Neal is willing to bring that level of insight, tactics and leadership back to his former team’s bench.
The only catch? Well, as O’Neal said on “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” the Lakers would have to pay up, and make him the highest-paid coach in NBA history.
“If the Lakers offer me $25 million a year for four years, I’ll coach the Lakers... I need a four year contract. I’ll coach them right now... I know you ain’t consider my good friend Master P, but if you want me, this is the fee.”
Now, Shaq was obviously (mostly) kidding here, and — as you can see in the video above — was referencing that rapper Master P recently told TMZ that he would coach the Lakers and bring in Shaq as an assistant.
But I say hey, why not? If the Lakers are going to be weird anyway, let’s get as weird as possible. And if they end up bringing Russ back, why hire Scott Brooks when you get a coach like O’Neal with more recent success inspiring the former MVP?
Hell, just fire Rob Pelinka and bring in some fresh ideas from someone with as strong opinions as Shaq. I know who my pick would be:
Stephen A. Smith: “They can’t afford me… but the Lakers should hire me as their President of Basketball Operations.”— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) April 11, 2022
Smith/O’Neal 2022: The change Laker Nation needs. Let’s make it happen.