‘Not Bailing You Out’: Shaquille O’Neal Reveals How Lakers Coach Phil Jackson Influenced His Career

Published 10/06/2021, 9:10 AM EDT
Head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson (R) talks with Shaquille O’Neal (L) 05 June, 2001, during practice for the NBA Finals at the Staples Arena in Los Angeles. The Lakers will face the Philadelphia 76ers in game one starting 06 June, 2001. (Photo: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)


NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal recently revealed details of how his former coach Phil Jackson influenced his career. Jackson coached Shaquille O’Neal during his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. These revelations by O’Neal came on a podcast by ‘Sports Illustrated’.

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Appearing on the ‘Crossover’ podcast, Shaquille O’Neal spoke candidly about Phil Jackson’s coaching methods. Host Chris Mannix asked O’Neal about his thoughts on the whole Ben Simmons controversy which has caught the NBA world like wildfire. While speaking about Simmons, O’Neal used the example of the relationship between him and his former coach, Phil Jackson.

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Shaquille O’Neal had joined the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent in 1996, along with Kobe Bryant, who the Lakers drafted. The Lakers, however, could not compete toe-to-toe with the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz until the turn of the century. The franchise hired Phil Jackson in 2000 and this drastically changed their fortunes.

Shaq talked about the advice from Phil that changed his career. Shaquille O’Neal said, “Like Phil always used to say, ‘I’m not bailing you out, I’m not bailing you out. I know you’re two for fourteen right now, but guess what? You don’t make them; we don’t win,’ that’s all he said.”

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Phil Jackson and motivating Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers

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Phil Jackson won a three-peat with the Lakers between 2000 and 2002. O’Neal was finals MVP in all three seasons under Phil Jackson. And hence, it isn’t a surprise when Shaquille O’Neal talks about the influence Jackson had on his career. Jackson also helped him overcome the ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ technique that opponents used to stop O’Neal.

O’Neal describes this saying, “He said, ‘We’re coming to you every time. I know the ‘Hack-A-Shaq’, I’m not bailing you out. I’m not bailing you out, putting in John Salley.’ You know, or if he did bail me out, he would shoot me up, ‘Come on, man, do just say what we talked about. Drink some water. Go back out there I need you to knock him down.'”

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Lakers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal sit on the bench with foul trouble against the Timberwolves in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal parted ways with the Lakers after the 2004 season and joined the Miami Heat. He helped them win the 2006 NBA championship. Phil Jackson had a huge role in him being recognized as the legend that he is today.

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Shalom Saldanha

49 articles

Shalom Saldanha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his journalism degree, he has previously worked as a sports corresspondent for India Shorts/Business Upturn. A Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks fan, Shalom primarily got into the sport after discovering that he shared a mutual love for Arsenal with the Greek Freak.

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