Shaq O'Neal

Beginning the 1996-1997 season Shaquille ONeal was a Laker. He left the Orlando Magic when the Lakers fetched him with a $122 million seven year contract. Shaq came to a team with much young talent in Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones and Cedric Ceballos. This squad had a hard time fitting in with the new center at times. Fox and Horry came in the next year and seemed to fit in with the big guy better. During his first two seasons in L.A. the Lakers had great seasons but got knocked out two times in a row in the playoffs by the Utah Jazz. During the 1998-1999 season Shaq thought the team needed change and management traded Van Excel, Eddie Jones and Eldin Campell by persuasion of O'Neal. Coach Del Harris was also fired. Glen Rice was brought in and also Dennis Rodman. None of this helped though, the Lakers were swept in the second round of the playoffs by San Antonio 4-0. In 1999 the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as the new coach and he utilized his triangle offense with his new team. Kobe Bryant emerged to a superstar and the Shaq-Kobe Lakers won three consecutive NBA titles, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Shaq was the 1999-2000 league MVP, coming just one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. The following years The Lakers continued to be one of the NBA's elite teams but did not win another championship. Soon Shaq felt that the Lakers were working the team more around the Lakers other superstar Kobe Bryant, felt some jealousy and demanded to be traded. The Lakers ended up trading him to the Miami Heat. Shaq will go down in history as one of the best big men to ever ply the game.