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Fight with Pat Riley led Miami Heat to trade Shaq

Posted on: November 12, 2011 9:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 9:58 pm
Posted by Ben Golliverpat-riley-shaquille-oneal

Shaquille O'Neal will be remembered as one of the NBA's greatest players, but his ugly exits from city after city caused plenty of controversy and wound up staining his legacy and lowering his career ceiling.

The scorched earth farewell from Orlando and the battle of egos with Kobe Bryant that led to his departure from Los Angeles are well-known. But there was also the move from a title-winning Miami Heat squad to the Phoenix Suns, a blow-up that might not have attracted as much attention because O'Neal was already past his prime, but nevertheless had plenty of eye-popping drama.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming autobiography, Shaq: Uncut, O'Neal lays out the story behind why he left South Beach for the Southwest. O'Neal admits that he threw a teammate to the ground while exchanging profanites with legendary coach Pat Riley, all while approaching Riley, who was 62 at the time, as if he was going to punch him.

The encounter, O'Neal writes, began when Riley attempted to throw guard Jason Williams out of practice only for O'Neal to step in and tell him to stay.
I tell Pat we're a team and we need to stick together, not throw guys out of the gym. Pat is screaming at me and says if I don't like it, then I should get the hell out of practice, too.

That's when I said, "Why don't you make me?"

I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then [Alonzo Mourning] tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll.

Now it's me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I'm poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it's getting nasty. Noisy, too. He's yelling "F--- you!" and I'm yelling back, "No, f--- you!"

Zo is trying to calm us both down and he has this kind of singsong panic in his voice. He keeps saying, "Big fella, no big fella, big fella!" I finally turn around and tell him, "Don't worry. I'm not going to hit the man. Do you think I'm crazy?"

Everybody was kind of backing away from me because I had that murderous "Shaq is about to go off" look on my face. They knew better than to mess with me at that point.

So, if you're keeping score at home, that's teammate-on-teammate violence plus threatened elderly violence.

Shortly thereafter, O'Neal writes, Riley contacted his agent and said that a trade was in the works. O'Neal played his first game with the Suns in February 2008. The Heat won just 15 games that season and took a step towards rebuilding; O'Neal enjoyed a mini-resurgence in the desert. One of those mutually-beneficial trades, I guess.

The biggest lesson here is that it was Riley's way or the highway in South Beach. Having won and lost with the biggest egos of multiple generations of NBA players, it's no wonder that he took the plunge on acquiring LeBron James without hesitation. Dealing with O'Neal nose-to-nose with your credibility challenged is perfect training for the many personality challenges that James brought to the table last season.

If Riley could motivate a title out of O'Neal, who was apparently capable of really flipping out when the going got tough, it's difficult to bet against him coaxing one out of James, too. Of course, it's Erik Spoelstra, and not Riley, who must physically stand, unflinching, when questioned and challenged on the practice court these days. 

RELATED: In new book, Shaquille O'Neal writes that he was physically abused by his father 

Since: Sep 15, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2011 4:13 pm

Fight with Pat Riley led Miami Heat to trade Shaq

I understand Shaq's point regarding Jason William incident, but players seem to forget the meaning of the word 'Manager' or 'General Manager' for that matter.

You have a boss and who happens to be older, you respect your boss and your elders at the same time.

In every sports organization they will never take sides with the players than with the coaches/managers. The latter is the law, the one who makes the calls and you do not question.

Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:50 am

Fight with Pat Riley led Miami Heat to trade Shaq

A perfect example of why players should be able to be cut and lose pay, like the NFL...Guaranteed contracts, means guaranteed problems....

Sports always has an eventual conflict in the team, mainly because there is alot of passion involved...If they know the coach can't do anything, they will eventually say 'up yours'...What can the coach do? 

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:13 am

Fight with Pat Riley led Miami Heat to trade Shaq

THE problem with the NBA is the animals have been running the zoo for too long. Hey, lets face it...if these guys were smart, they would all have educations to fall back on. They were born with the only skills they possess, and have relied on them their entire lives...and it's an adjustment only the money they've made can soften, when they become a 7 foot, slow, fat, washed up player with an ego of the All-Star they used to be. 

Pat Riley WAS a coach, now he's just a zookeeper. Spoelstra  isn't a coach, he's a caddie...just like Mike Brown.  

Motivation ? Horse couldn't motivate these guys with a cattle prod. It's either in them or not. Jordan, Bird, Magic, would have excelled with any coach...Shaq, like LeBron, is a fair weather phenom, and a choker under pressure.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: November 13, 2011 7:58 am
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