He also had some who probably weren’t so great to play alongside. And O’Neal cited Dennis Rodman as one of who fit such a criteria.
O’Neal and Rodman were together briefly with the Lakers, for one season, back in 1998-99. Rodman was 37-years old at the time. This was before Phil Jackson became coach, with Del Harris was actually on the sideline for the Lakers.
It was also before Shaq and Kobe won three rings together. In other words, those Lakers were not quite yet what they would become.
“Worst teammate? Dennis Rodman,” O’Neal said on The Big Podcast with Shaq, via Brad Botkin of CBS Sports. “He was a great player, but he made it hard. Like when you try to corral the guys together and the people above you [are] letting this one guy do whatever he wants. So we had to be there an hour before the game. He’d come in fifteen minutes before the game eating chicken and rice. While the coaches are talking, he would jump in the shower. Cold shower. Come and give you 15-20 rebounds.”
Rodman was hardly a factor that season, of course. He appeared in just 23 games, averaging 2.1 points and 11.2 boards. It was his next-to-last season before retirement, as he spent just 12 games with the Mavericks the year after that.
Those Lakers were also eliminated by the eventual champion Spurs in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
But then Rodman left, Jackson came, and a mini-dynasty was born. Maybe those two things aren’t all related — but maybe they are.