One of the most dominant big men who ever played the game of basketball, Shaquille O’Neal, is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame because of his play and winning four championships in the NBA.
But before the accolades and the championships were won, the 7-foot, 1-inch player had no success in the playoffs while playing for his first team, the Orlando Magic. After being moved to the Los Angeles Lakers and before winning his first championship, O’Neal flew into a fit of rage and ripped five urinals off the locker room walls after being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.
While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, O’Neal admitted to the talk show host that after ripping the urinals out of frustration, (around the 16:45 mark), the Los Angeles Laker’s general manager at the time and fellow Hall of Famer, Jerry West, told him something he never knew that calmed him down.
“So, you remember when I first got to LA in ’96, we would always lose in the playoffs. We would always get swept. So this was the time where, you know, ‘Shaq, he’s a great player but is he really a great player? He’s not winning championships.’ I never thought we would win. So, you know, every year we got better, Kobe and myself, but then when it come to the playoffs, we would lose. So, and one last time before we hit three in a row, I just went in the office, and I just ripped five off the wall.”
Then West hit him with the gem that made O’Neal retreat, which pacified him in the moment.
“Jerry West came in, and he told me a story I didn’t know. He said, ‘Son, calm down. I went to the Finals nine times before I won it with the Lakers,’ so I didn’t feel as bad. So, like, I’m ripping a urinal off, and I was like, ‘Hold on, you went to the Finals nine times and lost?’ He said, ‘Calm down! You’ll get it! You’ll get it!’”