O'Neal became a free agent after the —96 NBA season. The Heat struggled against the Bulls and although O'Neal put up reasonable numbers, he was not able to dominate the series. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4—0 sweep. The Lakers made the playoffs, but were eliminated in the second round by the Utah Jazz in five games. During the game, O'Neal flopped against Howard. They sought the free-agent services of forward Karl Malone and aging guard Gary Payton , but due to salary cap restrictions, could not offer either one nearly as much money as they could have made with some other teams.
Shaq's demands held the franchise hostage, and the way he went about it didn't please the owner too much. O'Neal responded with an expletive toward Riley, whom he often referred to as the "great Pat Riley" while playing for the Heat. O'Neal played well in his first Finals appearance, averaging 28 points on There was no way ownership could give him what he wanted. Harrison, a career Army sergeant. Although O'Neal averaged career lows or near-lows in points, rebounds, and blocks, he said in an interview "Stats don't matter. In the —07 season O'Neal reached 25, career points, becoming the 14th player in NBA history to accomplish that milestone. Chicago would respond with two dominating performances at home to tie the series, but Miami would respond right back with a victory at home in game 5. O'Neal started all 33 games and averaged Talk to you soon. However, personnel changes were a source of instability during the —99 season. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4—0 sweep. Despite O'Neal's injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60—22, second in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls, who finished with an NBA record 72 wins. They formed one of the league's top duos and helped Orlando to a 57—25 record and the Atlantic Division crown. The Lakers finished with a 31—19 record during the lockout-shortened season. It probably was a flop, but flopping is the wrong use of words. Ultimately, both signed, each forgoing larger salaries in favor of a chance to win an NBA championship, which neither had accomplished in his career and which neither would achieve with the Lakers. He's always interested in being a scorer, but he hasn't had nearly enough concentration on defense and rebounding. For the season , the team made a concerted off-season effort to improve its roster. Bad luck still haunted the squad, however, as Wade dislocated his left shoulder, leaving O'Neal as the focus of the team. O'Neal's stepfather was stationed on a U. While the Olympic basketball team was training in Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel published a poll that asked whether the Magic should fire Hill if that were one of O'Neal's conditions for returning. O'Neal referred to Divac as "she", and said he would never exaggerate contact to draw a foul. With Wade carrying the offensive load, O'Neal did not need to have a dominating series, and finished with an average of Army base at Wildflecken , West Germany.
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