Shaquille O'Neal's Career Outlook Changed Forever Thanks To A Quote From Jerry West

Among the most dominant big men in NBA history, center Shaquille O'Neal was without a championship ring until the 2000 season, as Biography notes. After the 1999 season ended with yet another playoff defeat of Shaq's team, the Los Angeles Lakers, this time at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the superstar lost his composure. Thanks in part to the wise advice of legendary Lakers player and current NBA executive Jerry West, Shaq kept it together and managed to bring home one of three titles he'd help win for L.A. alongside guard Kobe Bryant. The first of the championships came in the very next NBA season (via Basketball Network).

The No. 1 pick in the 1992 NBA draft, O'Neal would go on to win four Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophies over the course of his 19-year career in the league. During that time the star center played for six teams, including the Lakers but also the Celtics, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat, and Magic (per ESPN). As the top pick in the draft, and after scoring a lucrative contract in Los Angeles in 1996 as the top free agent signing that season, Shaq carried with him great expectations (via Lakers Nation). But after nearly 10 years in the NBA without winning a title, that pressure on Shaq only mounted.

Shaq lost his cool in the locker room

Stinging with yet another playoff defeat at the hands of the Spurs, O'Neal took out his frustration in the immediate aftermath of the '99 basketball season. While doing so, he reportedly ripped a number of urinals off the wall of the locker room during in a fit of rage, as the retired superstar center revealed in 2021 to host Jimmy Kimmel on the late-night TV show "Live with Jimmy Kimmel." That interview is available to watch now on Youtube.

Speaking with Kimmel, Shaq recalled the frustration he felt at that time, especially since some in the media were beginning to wonder if O'Neal might be overrated. "Shaq, he's a great player but is he really a great player? He's not winning championships," Shaq said on the show (via Sportscasting). Unable to contain himself at that moment, O'Neal ripped five urinals off the wall, and if it weren't for the intervention of Jerry West (pictured) the 7-foot-1-inch tall center could have caused even further destruction.

Shaq remembered that moment in his memoir

As Shaq also recalled in his 2014 memoir "Shaq Talks Back" the Lakers executive and one-time star player Jerry West, whose silhouette adorns the logo of the NBA, approached O'Neal at that moment of frustration in an effort to calm the star down (via SB Nation). According to Shaq, West said, "What the hell are you mad about? The other guys didn't help you, plain and simple. You haven't got it together yet. But trust me, we will."

It was also then that West shared with O'Neal the fact it took him nine seasons to win his first title, as O'Neal went on to relate to Kimmel on his show (via Sportscasting) "[S]o I didn't feel as bad," Shaq continued. "I'm ripping a urinal off, and I was like, 'Hold on, you went to the Finals nine times and lost?' He said, 'Calm down! You'll get it! You'll get it!'" 

That's just what Shaq did. And not only did Shaq, who retired from the NBA in 2011, he get his rings, he was inducted in the 2016 class to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (per Biography).