Amongst all of the Los Angeles Lakers legends, few are as outspoken and have a platform as big as Shaquille O’Neal, who serves as an analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” O’Neal has never minced words when it comes to his former franchise where he has his jersey retired and a statue outside of Staples Center.
Following the team’s awful loss in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns, a game in which they lost by 30 points, there was no doubt that Shaq would have some things to say about the team’s performance in the post-game show.
The Lakers legend did not hold back after the game, saying the team played soft and calling on players to step up in the absence of Anthony Davis, via NBA on TNT:
“As a former Laker, I have G-14 classification to say what I’m about to say. They played soft. They played with no heart, played with no pride, and they played with no sense of urgency. LeBron [James] had 24 points, one starter had seven, one had four and then you got two starters that had zero. When one guy goes down, next man gotta step up.
Every team has that guy Draymond and Chuck, that ‘I wish I had more shots, I wish I had more opportunities,’ you gotta step up. Not only that, they’re giving that money away now, this is a chance to make a name for yourself.”
O’Neal continued on, calling out both Kyle Kuzma and James to perform better in Game 6:
“You know Kyle Kuzma, we’ve been waiting for Kyle Kuzma to be that guy, I need a 30-piece from Kyle Kuzma. AD’s out, somebody’s gotta step up. You know Bron, ‘Mr. Big Shoulders’ he didn’t play great, and I’m sure he’s gonna come back and play great. But when it comes to the Lakers and the great championship teams, they played with pride. We didn’t always have all of our players healthy, but we still played with pride. The stars played well, stars played when they were hurt, and the others stepped up.”
The Lakers are a very prideful organization and performances like this are felt even to those who are no longer with the team. Shaq called out the Lakers because he wants them to step up and succeed and the players seem to be embracing that as well.
Schroder accepts blame for Lakers Game 5 loss
One of those starters mentioned by O’Neal who went scoreless in the game was Schroder. In the absence of Davis, Schroder represents the team’s next best scoring option but he came up empty in the most important game of the season. Though Schroder insists he will try and stay positive going forward, he took full blame for not stepping up.
“Stay positive and I’m going to be better Game 6. I think everybody can do better, but it starts with me for sure. AD was out. It starts with me being aggressive and helping LeBron [James] and all these other guys to put pressure on the rim. It starts with me for sure.”
While Game 5 may have been his worst as a Laker, Schroder will have the opportunity to make up for it in Game 6. Should he do that and help the Lakers extend their season, eventually he could push this performance out of everyone’s mind.
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