BRISTOL: Shaquille O’Neal says he hopes LeBron James doesn’t make the same mistake he did in the back end of his career.
O’Neal advised James against team-hopping in search of more championships.
“After I got to three, everybody was saying I couldn’t get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn’t get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it. Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston.”
O’Neal’s final title came in 2006 with the Miami Heat. He won three in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-2002.
James, who can opt-out and become a free agent this summer, reached the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
He famously left Cleveland for the Heat in 2011 and proceeded to reach the Finals in four straight seasons, winning two of them.
Since returning to Cleveland, he’s reached the Finals the last four seasons and won one championship. He’s faced the Golden State Warriors in each of those four years.
O’Neal says that James’s legacy is set whether he adds any more titles or not.
“Somebody told me a long time ago — they said your book is already set. You can add index pages toward the end, but your book is already set. So LeBron’s book is already set,” O’Neal said in the interview. “He done already passed up legends; he done already made his mark — he has three rings. His mentality now is probably: I want to get four before Steph (Curry) does. That’s probably his mentality now. But if I was him, I wouldn’t be trying to get four, five and six because it ain’t going to matter. It’s just something else to talk about, something else to add to the pages. He’s a legend, talked about as who is the best between he and Michael Jordan, so he’s set.”
James has until before midnight on June 29 to make a decision on whether to opt out. Cleveland can offer him US$205 million over five years, while other teams can offer him US$152 million over four years.