Four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal issued a scathing warning to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, saying that despite a terrible season, it would be a huge mistake to trade the team’s biggest superstar, LeBron James.
“If you trade LeBron, you will never win again,” O’Neal said of the Lakers in an interview with CNBC.
While the NBA trade deadline has passed, James’ contract with the Lakers expires in 2023. Some have speculated that the James exchange might be the fastest and easiest way to fix command disconnect.
O’Neal himself spent eight seasons with the Lakers, leading the team to three league titles alongside Kobe Bryant. In 2004, the franchise traded the former 7’1″ center to the Miami Heat.
O’Neal, who is also a TNT broadcaster, said Monday the Lakers should focus on getting James surrounded by the right set of players.
“If you put LeBron next to the right guys, they definitely win,” he said. “I think whoever put the team together should step up and try to fix it.”
The Lakers are currently in 9th place in the Western Conference with a 27–33 record. The team’s chances of reaching the playoffs are 9%. FiveThirtyEight prediction model. Sunday night Lakers fans booing their own team after a 123–95 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I’ve been booed before, it wasn’t a good feeling,” O’Neill said.
“They will continue to work”
Shaquille O’Neal, NBA star and Chief Entertainment Officer of Carnival Cruise Line, invites guests to try his highly anticipated meals, which will be served at sea as part of the Big Chicken at the Mardi Gras Summer Landing Area during Carnival Cruise Line’s New York City cruise. 2020 Mardi Gras arrival summer event at Pier 59 on June 18, 2019 in New York City.
Mike Coppola | Getty Images
Shaq’s comments were made at the International Franchise Association’s annual convention, where he also spoke to CNBC about his experience as a franchisee and franchisor of several restaurants.
The former All-Star has nine Papa John franchises and one Krispy Kreme franchise. He is also the co-owner and franchisor of a fast growing chicken restaurant called “Big Chicken”.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, Steve Ritchie and Shaquille O’Neal at the Grand Opening of Shaq’s Papa John’s Pizza on August 24, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Prince Williams | Wire image | Getty Images
“I learned from the great Magic Johnson that being a basketball superstar is okay, but at some point you want to go out and invest in a business,” O’Neal said. “Like a simple model, if it works and you follow the rules, they will continue to work.”
O’Neal did not disclose his franchise’s profits. He has worked for several franchises over the years, including Auntie Anne’s, Five Guys, and 24 Hour Fitness. This year alone, O’Neal said he was forced to close his Los Angeles restaurant Shaquille’s due to the Covid pandemic.
Franchise growth is expected to stabilize in 2022, growing by 2.2% to reach a total of 792,014 franchised establishments across the country, according to IFA. The group also found that franchising promotes higher levels of entrepreneurship among women, non-white business owners, and underrepresented groups—26% of franchises are owned by people of color.
“In the franchise business, if you stick to the core values of what you’re taught, in many cases you can’t go wrong,” O’Neill said.