Shaquille O’Neal confesses the embarrassing secret of his relationship with LeBron James: ‘I was jealous of him’

Shaq claimed to admire LeBron’s leadership, but she also came to feel envious of “King James.”

Shaquille O'Neal (L) and LeBron James only shared the 2009-2010 season...
Shaquille O’Neal (L) and LeBron James only shared the 2009-2010 season with the Cavs.

From his rookie year with the Orlando Magic to his retirement with the Boston Celtics, Shaquille O’Neal was almost always the man. The only exception to that, according to his most recent statements, was the year he spent with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where a young LeBron James was already “The King.”

Shaq has always said that he had a good relationship with LeBron. In a 2015 interview with Bleacher Report, the NBA great stated that by playing with James, they shared the responsibilities.

Despite this, in a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” O’Neal acknowledged that in addition to admiring James’ leadership abilities and talent, he also came to feel some envy of the treatment his former teammate received everywhere.

LeBron was actually the best leader, the best young leader I’d seen. And I was kinda jealous of him because he got to do stuff I could never do,” O’Neal admitted about his relationship with “King James.”

James’ influence on the Cavs

O’Neal admitted that part of the envy he felt for James was because of the way he controlled the team. He recalled that he could even influence the coaches’ decisions, “Like, coach would be like, ‘Hey man, we practicing at 10.’ LeBron would be like, ‘No, we practicing at 12,’ ‘All right, practice at 12.’ And I was like, God damn.”

According to ShaqJames’ prerogatives were not limited to the team or the court. “He gets to bring his family members on the plane. So, I was like, ‘I’ve been the man for a long time. I’ve never had this much power.'”

The liberties James had with Cleveland were not for free. The year before he arrived, the Cavs recorded 17 wins and 65 losses. In his rookie year, LeBron was one step away from getting the team into the postseason, and by the time Shaq arrived at the franchise in 2009, they were already a contending team.

Between 2003 and 2008, the Cavaliers played in four postseasons, three conference finals, and one NBA Final, all under the leadership of “King James.” Perhaps O’Neal’s friendly envy is justified, but the prerogatives that LeBron had and continues to have have been hard-earned.