Shaquille O'Neal talks about the way his season ended with the Heat (too many mistakes), this year's NBA Finals (boring), his old coach (congratulations, Phil) and his old teammate (Kobe who?) in this week's Sunday Conversation. The segment will air on SportsCenter Sunday at 11 p.m. ET. Here is a partial transcript from the conversation.
ESPN: When you hear people say that this was the Heat's year, how do you respond to that?
Shaq: Every year is my year. We had a great year and we were right there. We just need to learn how to, how to when we get right there go over, take it over. And we didn't have enough experience, Detroit had a little more experience than we did, but that is not what beat us, we beat ourselves and we made too many mistakes down the stretch.
ESPN: You were this close … you were up by five with what two, two and a half minutes left?
Shaq: Actually I've had many defeats in my NBA career but this one hurt the worst. It even hurt worse than us losing to Detroit in the Finals when I was with the Lakers. I'm hurt. I'm upset. I'm devastated. 'Cause it's another one, it's another great opportunity that slipped away for me, an opportunity that slipped away for the city. I'm devastated and it's something I'm gonna have to live with, but it's only gonna make me stronger.
ESPN: What do you think of the NBA Finals matchup this time around?
Shaq: I think it's boring. It would have been better if we were there. The ratings would have been better. The games would have been better. There would have been more entertainers at the game. It would have been fun. I think it's boring, but I don't know, who am I? I didn't make it, so I don't have room to talk. But I'll be back I'll be there.
ESPN: People said that he is really motivated this year because he really wants to stick it to the Lakers. How true is that?
Shaq: I don't let earthlings motivate me. I only let factors motivate me. The only thing that motivates me is, when I'm done playing, I want people to say, 'He's the Baddest Mother (expletive) to ever play the game.' Right now I am hearing that from some of the people. When I am done playing I want to hear that from all of the people. So right now I have three championships. That's cool. I could probably retire now and wait 10 years and most likely be named into the Hall of Fame. Whoopty do. Right now I am not satisfied with my career just winning three championships, because I have been there five times, and I should have five right now. Should have five. Should have six, including this year, but it didn't happen that way.
ESPN: What do you think about Phil Jackson returning as head coach of the Lakers?
Shaq: I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for Phil. And I think it's great for Phil. I'm happy for Phil. I'm happy for Phil, I really am. I would have liked to see him take the Sacramento job though, I think they would have been a little better fit for the triangle.
ESPN: Have you talked to Phil at all?
Shaq: No. I'll do it here on ESPN. 'Congratulations Phil.' There is no need to talk, 'cause he's not in, he's not in the neutral waters any more. So I'll just say congratulations and we'll leave it at that.
ESPN: Do you ever see the day where it would be possible for you to sit down, have a talk with Kobe Bryant?
ESPN: Kobe Bryant.
Shaq: You know what I am not familiar with that name, I know a lot of names and I have a lot of names in my head, but I am not familiar with that name. Especially if there is nothing to talk about, I'm sorry I can't recall that name.