Much of the focus for the Lakers dynasty of the early-2000s was on the star players, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and rightfully so. However, none of those championships happen without big plays from the team’s excellent role players like Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw, and Rick Fox.
Of all of the role players, Fox tends to slip through the cracks for some reason. He was a lockdown defender, one of the team’s true enforcers, and a reliable shooter. And even though Shaq didn’t want to admit it at first, Fox was viewed as the inspirational, vocal leader for the team.
On Inside the NBA, O’Neal initially claimed that he was the vocal leader for the Lakers who made sure guys were involved. Co-host Kenny Smith, however, continually argued that was false, and after enough prodding, Shaq finally relented:
Kenny: “You weren’t that guy, Shaq.”
Shaq: “I did everything. What are you talking about?”
Kenny: “You weren’t the guy who would get everybody vocally involved. I watched you play your whole career, man. I was on the floor with you.”
Shaq: “Say it again. I wasn’t the guy that did what?”
Kenny: “You weren’t the vocal guy telling guys to get on the floor the way KG was just doing.”
Shaq: “Stop it. Yes I was. … You know what, probably Rick Fox. When I was in Orlando, it was Horace.”
Every team needs that player who makes sure everyone is locked in and gets on their case when they aren’t. Sometimes it’s a star, but sometimes it’s a role player and for the Lakers Fox was that guy.
The fact that Shaq was so adamant that he was that guy before finally admitting otherwise is pretty hilarious.
Perhaps it is because he doesn’t have those famous clutch shots like Horry or Fisher, but Fox can be forgotten. Needless to say if he weren’t around, those Lakers teams would not have been as good as they were.
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