The Los Angeles Lakers are a franchise filled with fascinating lore that is — in and of itself — vital to the history of the NBA. L.A. has been one of the premier franchises with all-time greats like Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West being synonymous with the team at various points in their career.
West and O’Neal, specifically, had tenures with the Lakers at the same time. O’Neal was a player, dominating the interior en route to becoming a all-time great and winning three consecutive championships. And at the helm of decision-making was West, who laid the groundwork for the three-peat before leaving the franchise in 2000.
And during their time with the Lakers together, West can recall a very specific story when he learned about O’Neal domineering strength. He spoke about the story on The Rich Eisen Show:
“I remember another time he gets kicked out of the game, and I go into the locker room to see how he was, and he had torn the doors off of the restroom areas that are protected,” West said. “He said to me, ‘I’ll be happy to pay for it.’ I said ‘No, No, No, you can’t pay for it, but how in the world can someone be this strong to rip these doors off?’ I mean it was crazy. But he’s a fun guy.”
There is a reason O’Neal has the reputation he has of being the most dominant player in league history. It’s in part because of this seemingly not human strength that when channeled correctly made him an unstoppable force on the court.
West was instrumental in bringing the Big Diesel to the Lakers and it led to three championships and four finals appearances in a five-year span for the purple and gold. While West was not there for a majority of the success, there is no denying that he can take the majority of the credit for what took place from 2000 to 2004.
Dwight Howard regrets leaving Lakers in 2013
One of the most infamous moves by a center in Lakers history was Dwight Howard opting to sign with the Houston Rockets after one season in L.A. Although he has since returned and won a championship with the team, the move still sits with him in a negative way.
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