When Kobe Bryant said that Shaquille O'Neal could have been the GOAT if he worked harder and got in the gym more, it appeared that a tense back-and-forth was about to begin. However, that isn't how the NBA Hall of Famer feels. O'Neal is actually grateful for the press that these comments brought because "it's all marketing."
The three-time NBA Finals MVP recently sat down with Kristin Leahy of Fair Game to discuss a wide variety of topics, including the early 2000s Los Angeles Lakers and getting a 100 rating in NBA2k. However, the conversation did turn to the now-infamous comments by Bryant and whether or not O'Neal can be considered lazy.
"I don't even know what lazy means," O'Neal told Leahy. "Like all of these people that are talking, it would be better – it would make them sound legit or smart if I didn't win."
😤😤 @SHAQ really wants you to know he's not lazy:September 24, 2019
As O'Neal continued to explain, the comments about him being lazy would be the greatest "coulda, woulda, shoulda" story if not for the small fact that he was a proven winner. As perfect evidence of this fact, he cited having his jersey retired, winning the NBA Championship four times, owning a successful restaurant in downtown LA, and getting a statue in his honor outside of the Staples Center.
Unfortunately for those critics, however, O'Neal achieved all of these feats, as well as many others. Throughout his career, the center who primarily spent his career with the Lakers accumulated stats that rival among the league's best. He has 28,596 points to his name, along with 2,732 blocks, and 13,099 rebounds. All of these numbers rank among the top-15 in NBA history.
Lazy or not, what ultimately matters to O'Neal is how he is remembered for his pursuits away from the court. He explained to Leahy that it was nice to have all of those accolades based on his 19-year career, but it's not as important. He wants to be remembered for other things in his life. "That's why I don't listen to earthlings," he said.
That being said, O'Neal is comfortable in his own skin and doesn't care when people call him lazy. The reason? He didn't have to grind in the gym all day long because he achieved success in his own way.