O'Neal and the Miami Heat were still struggling at 1-8 after their loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night. But Shaq was fine with Wade saying he needed to motivate himself to turn things around -- for his team and himself.
"Probably this year more so than any year I have been more vocal with Shaq, talking to him and trying to motivate him," Wade told reporters on Thursday. "But the main thing is Shaq has got to be self-motivated. He has got to be willing and ready to do it."
"Even though he is not getting the ball as much as he wants, we need him to help lead this team in other ways, whether it's rebounding the ball or passing the ball the way he knows how to pass," Wade told reporters. "He's our leader, [along] with myself. When you hear about the Miami Heat, it's Shaq and D-Wade. A lot is on us to lead the team and we have got to find a way to do it."
After Friday's game, Shaq said Wade was right.
"We have that kind of relationship where we could talk to each other like that," O'Neal told reporters. "He was right. We're fine."
The box score also suggests that the message hit home. Against the Celtics, O'Neal scored 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds in 27 minutes -- a Shaq-sized improvement over his 10-point, three-rebound effort in a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics earlier this week.
Heat coach Pat Riley also praised Wade for speaking out, though Riley said his star guard's comments would have been better kept in-house, according to the Miami Herald.
''We can't walk around on eggshells when we're playing this way,'' Riley said before Friday's game, according to the Herald. "If somebody's not getting it done, I can't be the only voice to always reprimand. I think it's time everybody holds each other accountable, but not publicly."