Shaq seemingly jokes about NBA being scripted with ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Pacers story

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 16, 2024

Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most dominant players to ever wear a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. His former coach Phil Jackson is also regarded among the greats. Shaq recalled an intriguing “NBA script” story in which Jackson made a striking Indiana Pacers prediction.

Shaq went on his podcast alongside Julius Randle to recall the interesting story. Randle asked the former Lakers center if his 2000 NBA Finals championship ring was real, and O’Neal jokingly said no. Then, Randle lightheartedly proposed that Shaq knew his team would win the title due to the notorious “NBA script.” O’Neal then proceeded to his interesting Pacers story.

“True story, and I’ve never told this story. In the first round, first championship, I forget who we were playing. I hear Phil Jackson tell [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti, ‘Hey, get us some hotels in Indiana because that’s where we’re gonna play in the Finals.’ This was like before Game 1 in the Finals. And it didn’t hit me until we got to Indiana,” Shaq said via The Big Podcast.

One of O’Neal’s other podcast guests proposed that Jackson could have made his prediction based on the Pacers being the best team in the Eastern Conference. However, Shaq claimed that he was not sure how Jackson could have made such a prediction.

Perhaps the former Lakers coach felt no other team could compete with Los Angeles. Regardless, Jackson’s squad won the series 4-2 for their first championship during the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant era.

The coveted squad went on to win two more championships during their time together. Was the Lakers’ first championship a result of the “NBA script”? Or a pure case of manifestation? The world may never know, but fans do know how special the group was.

Shaq, Phil Jackson left behind an honorable Lakers legacy

Phil Jackson helped Los Angeles form one of the most dominant brief dynasties in NBA history. He was able to mesh two of the top talents in the league into a cohesive unit. Shaq and Kobe Bryant’s time together during their championship runs was unlike any other.

Years after the two were teammates, O’Neal claimed he and Bryant were the best pairing to ever play.

“Best one-two punch ever. Don’t forget it,” Shaq claimed on Instagram in February of 2024. The former LA big man then followed the post up with an unapologetic comment. “Yeah, I said it.”

In addition to winning three consecutive titles, Shaq and Bryant averaged unreal stats. O’Neal’s best season of the star pairing came during the 1999-200 season. He averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, and a whopping 3.0 blocks per game.

Naturally, O’Neal won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award after his incredible year. Moreover, Bryant’s ascent was the ultimate concealer of LA’s success. He put up 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5,0 assists, and 1.7 steals during the season leading up to his first title with Shaq.

Nevertheless, like all good things, Shaq, Kobe, and Phil Jackson’s time together eventually came to an end. However, the stories that Shaq tells about the group live on forever.