MIAMI -- The excepts keep coming from Shaquille O'Neal. Two days ago, it was his 2007 run-in with then-Heat coach Pat Riley that nearly came to blows. Now, the latest excerpt from "Shaq Uncut: My Story" reflects on the retired center's 2009-10 tenure as a Cavaliers teammate of LeBron James.
As with the Riley tale, O'Neal's soon-to-be-released autobiography, if nothing else, provides a decidedly Shaq perspective, including his views on James' flameout with the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Mavericks.
To O'Neal, 2009-10 came down to one mission for Cleveland: Placating James so he would not leave at season's end as a free agent (which he eventually did, to the Heat).
"LeBron was a huge star," O'Neal wrote in the excerpt posted at HoopsWorld.com. "He was as big as I was in 2000 in L.A. when I was dominating the league.
"Our coach, Mike Brown, was a nice guy, but he had to live on edge because nobody was supposed to be confrontational with LeBron. Nobody wanted him to leave Cleveland, so he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do.
"I remember one day in a film session LeBron didn't get back on defense after a missed shot. Mike Brown didn't say anything about it. He went to the next clip and it was Mo Williams not getting back and Mike was saying, 'Yo, Mo, we can't have that. You've got to hustle a little more.' So Delonte West is sitting there and he's seen enough and he stands up and says, 'Hold up, now. You can't be pussyfooting around like that. Everyone has to be accountable for what they do, not just some us.' Mike Brown said, 'I know, Delonte. I know.' Mike knew Delonte was right.
"I'm not sure if Kobe (Bryant) is going to listen to Mike Brown (now Lakers coach). LeBron never really did."
O'Neal also equated James' 2011 NBA Finals to James' struggles in the 2010 playoffs with the Cavaliers against the Celtics.
"There's no question in Game 5 LeBron was kind of out of it," O'Neal wrote. "I always believed he could turn it on at any moment, but for some reason he didn't. Not against the Celtics in 2010 and not against the Mavericks in 2011. It was weird. It's one thing to be a passer, but you are supposed to be the One.
"I'm watching him play against Dallas, and they're swinging the ball and they get him a perfect open look -- and he's kicking it to Mario Chalmers. Makes no sense. I told people, 'It's like Michael Jordan told me. Before you succeed, you must first fail."'
Stern on Arison
In an interview with the New York Times, NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the league's fine assessed to Heat owner Micky Arison for last week's lockout-related Twitter posts. Stern did not address the scale of the fine, reported by Yahoo and ESPN to be $500,000.
"It was more about his timing," Stern said, with Arison offering his posts Friday night, hours after negotiations in the four-month old NBA lockout collapsed. "We're trying very hard to get a deal done with the players, or we were, and we don't need any external distractions to that focus."
Arison quickly removed the posts and has been mum since on the issue.