Kobe Shaquille O'Neal Lakers

The Lakers will retire Shaq’s jersey. As they should.


Sometimes lost in all the clowning, all the injuries of the last few years, people seemed to have forgotten what an unstoppable force of nature Shaquille O’Neal was on the court in his prime.

A lot of that prime was in Los Angeles, paired with Kobe Bryant. They could not have won those titles without each other. But at that point in time, Shaquille O’Neal was the best player on the planet. The Lakers won three titles and Shaq cemented his legacy along with Mikan, Wilt and Kareem as one of the great Lakers centers and players ever.

The Lakers need to retire his jersey, and they will, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.

“We don’t have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq’s jersey,” said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday….

The Lakers will not purposefully hold off on O’Neal’s jersey retirement until Kobe Bryant’s jersey is retired, either.

“At this point in time I’d guess there’s a really good chance that Kobe will still be playing in five years, and by that time Shaq will be elected to the HOF and we will have retired his jersey,” Black wrote.

That news made Shaq happy.

The Lakers have said quietly for years they would retire Shaq’s jersey, it’s not really a surprise. Some Lakers fans, bitter over how Shaq left (the staunch Kobe people) don’t want it to happen, but frankly those people are wrong. They’re Kobe fans, not Lakers fans. Lakers fans still have love for Shaq (he may have said hurtful things, but your parents still love you and you remember some of the things you said to them). The timing was always the question — after the bad breakup of the Kobe/Shaq era, would they wait to let Kobe go first?

Don’t be surprised if they do. But as Black notes, if Kobe keeps playing beyond his current deal with the Lakers, things may change.

Either way, Shaq’s name and number deserve to be up in Staples Center.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.