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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Believed Shaquille O'Neal Couldn't Carry The Los Angeles Lakers Alone: "He Would Need A Few More Key Players. Kobe Certainly Had The Potential To Be One Of Those Key Players."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Believed Shaquille O'Neal Couldn't Carry The Los Angeles Lakers Alone: "He Would Need A Few More Key Players. Kobe Certainly Had The Potential To Be One Of Those Key Players."

The Los Angeles Lakers have had a simple strategy over the years to stay competitive in the NBA. Instead of building through the draft, they have usually relied on the free agency to add superstars to their team.

Over the years, players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, and a lot more joined the Purple and Gold via the free agency. Today, our focus is on arguably the most dominant player in NBA history in Shaquille O'Neal.

His career took off right after being drafted by the Orlando Magic. Shaq might have helped the Magic reach one NBA Finals, but it was clear that staying with the team wouldn't help him in winning rings.

As a result, in 1996 Shaquille O'Neal decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed a massive 7-year $120 million contract with the iconic NBA franchise. It was clear that the Lakers wanted a star player on the team and O'Neal wanted to play for a big market team.


Shaquille O'Neal Couldn't Have Won NBA Rings Without Key Players Per Lakers Legend

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the best players to ever play for the franchise. He played an instrumental role in the success of the Lakers, so his insights about the Lakers are usually welcomed by fans.

Keeping that in mind, KAJ recently shed some light on what he thought about Shaq's arrival to the Lakers.

Via Substack:

Man, that was a lot of money back then (and still is). I’ve been asked a lot whether or not I felt jealous of that huge amount only a few years after I retired. Not really. But I did wish my parents had waited a few more years to have me.

I couldn’t begrudge Shaq the money. He was in the right place at the right time—and he had the right talent. I wasn’t sure that Shaq would be enough to carry the Lakers to championships. I’d seen Hakeem Olajuwon dominate Shaq when he was with Orlando. But to Shaq’s credit, he came out of that confrontation with a new fire and purpose. Still, I knew he wouldn’t be enough to carry the team to a championship anymore than I could. He would need a few more key players. Kobe certainly had the potential to be one of those key players.

As Abdul-Jabbar explained, the Lakers spent a huge amount of money to sign Shaq. But there was no guarantee that he'd help the Lakers win NBA Championships even with O'Neal on the roster.

But without great key players, winning NBA rings is close to impossible in the league. Shaq got that person when the Lakers brought Kobe Bryant to the team. Kobe and Shaq formed a great duo and won three rings together. Ultimately, it proved Abdul-Jabbar's assessment correct.