The feeling of the people in Miami about Shaquille O’Neal and his book may best be summed up by a tweet from Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel:
There is the truth and then there is Shaq’s spin on his Heat departure.
As we detailed before, Shaq says his ticket out of Miami was punched when he stood up to Pat Riley for being too hard on the team. Specifically, Riley threw Jason Williams out of practice for being “10 seconds late” and that Shaq had enough. As Shaq tells it, he and Riley did not get along and after that incident they almost came to blows. Soon after the Heat were shopping him around.
When he traded me, Pat denied we were having any problems. He told the media, “I loved Shaq when I got him and I love him today.”
He didn’t mean it. He hated the way I called him out. He didn’t like to be challenged. I’m sure he thought I was trying to destroy the culture he created. He was probably right. I thought his “culture” needed some tweaking.
Winderman recounts a different telling after the Shaq trade, when Heat owner Micky Arison spoke about how things went down.
Foremost, in the wake of the unloading of O’Neal, Arison spoke of the center’s push for a trade dating to December 2007, with the Dallas Mavericks the object of the center’s affections at the time….
Amid that unease, O’Neal’s Heat teammates at the time told stories of how the massive center would engage in horseplay in the locker room prior to games only to tell the team’s training staff he was physically unable to play.
Did free spirit Shaq and harda** Pat Riley have a clash of styles? You bet. But just be careful buying the idea that Shaq was the good guy in all this. Shaq was Shaq, and any time he ran into a culture that really pushed him to better use his talents (Kobe Bryant, for example) he pushed against it.
Still, Shaq makes a good read.