As if there were not enough LeBron James critics in the world already, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Shaquille O'Neal has joined the chorus with his new book.
An excerpt from O'Neal's memoir, Shaq Uncut: My Story, tells how James was too big for his team in Cleveland, in Shaq's mind. "Nobody wanted [LeBron] to leave Cleveland, so he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do."
O'Neal said Cleveland's coach, Mike Brown, "was a nice guy, but he had to live on edge because nobody was supposed to be confrontational with LeBron."
Shaq recounted one incident in particular which spoke to James' special treatment in Cleveland, when a teammate lashed out at James and Brown. "I remember one day in a film session LeBron didn't get back on defense after a missed shot. Mike Brown didn't say anything about it."
But when Brown admonished Mo Williams for doing the same thing, teammate Delonte West did not react kindly, according to O'Neal. "West is sitting there and he's seen enough and he stands up and says, 'Hold up, now. You can't be pussyfooting around like that. Everyone has to be accountable for what they do, not just some of us.'"
Brown replied "I know, Delonte. I know." As Shaq put it, "Mike knew Delonte was right."
But Shaq saved his biggest criticism for his discussion of James' performance in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals, when LeBron allegedly quit on the Cavaliers when it became clear the Boston Celtics were going to win the series. O'Neal linked LeBron's performance in that series to his disappearance against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
"There's no question in Game 5 [of the 2010 series] LeBron was kind of out of it," Shaq writes. "I always believed he could turn it on at any moment, but for some reason he didn't. Not against the Celtics in 2010 and not against the Mavericks in 2011."
"It was weird," he continues. "It's one thing to be a passer, but you are supposed to be the One."
Shaq's criticisms are nothing new, but at least he didn' resort to the same tired joke about James giving someone three quarters when asked for a dollar.
Even so, aside from the story about Delonte West calling out James and Brown in film study, there is little new here. O'Neal seems to be latching onto the LeBron criticism craze the same way he latched onto James in Cleveland while chasing one last title.
If anything, the O'Neal excerpt underscores how badly the NBA season needs to start already. The world has officially run out of new angles to poke fun at LeBron James.