Shaq, Shaq and more Shaq.
The Big Cactus dominated Phil Jackson’s pregame chat, which is summarized below. But one quick note before we get to that: Trevor Ariza told me he’s feeling much better than he did in (probably) his worst game of the season. Clearly, he was slowed by an upper respiratory ailment, and it reflected in his play, but shouldn’t be tonight. Here’s a Phil summary.
Jackson explained that the Suns are getting the ball to him in his comfort zone, and Shaq’s making good passes out of the post. Furthermore, Phil thinks he’s working better with Amare Stoudemire than he did last season, and that “the season hasn’t worn on him yet, he’s still pretty active.”
Other than a lull in 2003-04, Jackson said that the rivalry has been highly competitive with the Suns.
The most entertaining part of the presser came when Shaq actually pushed himself through the assembled media to give Jackson a hug and whisper something into his ear. Jackson chalked that moment up to the great times the two enjoyed during L.A.’s championship run in the early 2000s.
Phil said that the reason Shaq left L.A. was purely economic, and that had his deal been re-structured, it shouldn’t have been assumed that Kobe Bryant would have returned, as that’s what Phil said the owner had in mind (retaining both).
Among several other comments about Shaq, Jackson said that he never worried that the Diesel could accept a secondary role, adding that Shaq still has two or three more playing ability thanks to his athleticism.
As far as the game itself, Phil didn’t have much to say, as we’ve already covered it extensively the last few days at practice. If you’re looking for a reminder, check the Lakers Gameday page.
Here’s the audio: