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Expert Testimony
Rick Reilly
October 13, 2003
Trials could begin soon for two Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant faces rape charges in an Eagle, Colo., court. And Shaquille O'Neal faces the trial of his basketball career on NBA courts.
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October 13, 2003

Expert Testimony

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"The only thing that upset me was my organization didn't stick behind me. A guy works for an organization, he expects to get some backup. Like, when [ Dallas forward] Dirk Nowitzki went down [with a knee sprain] last year, [Mavs coach and G.M.] Don Nelson said, 'No problem, Dirk. Don't play' But do I get that from my organization? No. I'm out there on one leg. One knee. I'm hurtin' like f———crazy. All I get is, 'He's outta shape.' But I don't say anything. I just put it in my file—for later."

Were you insulted that Jackson recently pimped you for winning only one MVP and challenged you to win it again this year?

"I learned a long time ago that you can't play for the MVP here. I learned that it's selfish. They told me one time to go out and get the MVP, so I did. If they tell me everybody's on the same page, that they're gonna help me get the MVP this year, I'll go get it."

Can you?

"Well, we got to go back to the basics with our offense. Last year we got all cute, we experimented, and we got messed up. Everybody in the world knows what the Lakers are supposed to do. The Lakers throw it in to Diesel. If Diesel gets doubled, he kicks it out for an open three. If they don't, then you stand back and Diesel thrashes. Simple. No additives. No preservatives."

Is it true you worked out the deals for Malone and Payton ?

"Ninety-eight percent of it. Gary's got four years left in the league. Karl's got two or three years left. I got three years left. I needed a new army. They needed a new army."

But with a team like that, don't you have to win the title?

"It'd be a shame if we don't win the whole thing. We should've won the whole thing last year, but we counted our chickens before they hatched. It was 'Four Phil' and 'Four Chick' and 'Four Shaq.' That's no good."

The Lakers' front office doesn't seem to be moving very quickly to extend your contract. Do you feel like you don't get enough credit?

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