He's always interested in being a scorer, but he hasn't had nearly enough concentration on defense and rebounding. During that summer, prior to moving to Orlando , he spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. The Lakers had hoped O'Neal would take less money due to his age, physical conditioning, and games missed due to injuries. But when I play him on defense , it's just going to be me down there. The corrective options ranged from reconstructive surgery on the toe to rehabilitation exercises with more shoe inserts and anti-inflammation medication. But it's cool", said O'Neal.
Shaw reprimanded O'Neal for yelling "Pay me" at Buss after dunking during a preseason game. The two argued face-to-face, with O'Neal poking Riley in the chest and Riley slapping his finger away. Jackson calculated that O'Neal's personality craved such a relationship. Supporters applauded O'Neal's willingness to take what amounted to a pay cut and the Heat's decision to secure O'Neal's services for the long term. O'Neal added that he would voice his opinions as he saw fit because the Lakers were his team. I care about winning, not stats. However, O'Neal was held scoreless, as he was now relegated to a role player. Bush after his fourth championship. After the lone loss, which was in the opening game of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers , Jackson criticized O'Neal for his lack of defense. If I score 0 points and we win I'm happy. Fisher said, "That was really the way we all should have been playing. Bryant missed a potentially game-winning shot as time expired. For the season , the team made a concerted off-season effort to improve its roster. O'Neal missed training camp due to surgery on an arthritic toe. Talk to you soon. It also was reported that investigators had told O'Neal of Bryant's supposed statements shortly after the investigation had begun. He said that if Bryant, who would be a free agent at the season's end, didn't like what O'Neal had to say, Bryant should just opt out since O'Neal said "I ain't going nowhere. O'Neal became a free agent after the —96 NBA season. Unlike last year, Bryant and O'Neal did not shake hands nor make eye contact with each other before and after the game. O'Neal referred to Divac as "she", and said he would never exaggerate contact to draw a foul. Although O'Neal averaged career lows or near-lows in points, rebounds, and blocks, he said in an interview "Stats don't matter. He opted against a more involved surgery to return back quicker. I'm happy for him. Winter observed that O'Neal influenced the entire team against Bryant. Bryant criticized O'Neal's public lobbying for a contract extension when "we have two future Hall of Famers Malone and Payton playing here pretty much for free". O'Neal congratulated Bryant, saying "I'm proud of him.
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