“No way in hell I’d ever pay Shaquille O’Neal $120 million”: When Dennis Rodman criticized the Lakers for signing The Big Diesel on the biggest contract at the time

Advait Jajodia
|Published May 30, 2022

Back in 1996, Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley were a few players who criticized the Lakers for signing Shaquille O’Neal on the biggest contract of the time.

Back in 1996, after 4 successful campaigns with the Orlando Magic, averaging a solid 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 2.4 assists, the Los Angeles Lakers found Shaquille O’Neal reliable enough to offer him the biggest contract in the NBA at the time.

Pairing him with the young sensation in Kobe Bryant, the Lakers front office signed Shaq on a whopping 7-year, $120 million contract after the Magic were unable to match the South California team’s offer.

There were quite a few players who congratulated LAL and O’Neal for the historic signing. Karl Malone for one lauded his fellow big man:

“I think it’s great for Shaq. There are guys that haven’t done a whole lot who are getting a whole lot of money. So a guy like him, he deserves it and more power to him.”

Also Read: Lakers legend has spent exorbitant amounts on phones, but not for the reason you think

However, not everyone believed that paying the then-24-year-old $120 million was a good idea.

“I’d never pay a man $120 million if he’s not the total package”: Dennis Rodman on the Lakers offering Shaquille O’Neal the biggest contract in NBA

Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman were among the few who didn’t think that offering Shaq the biggest contract in NBA was a smart investment.

Sir Charles criticized The Big Aristotle for his “inability to deliver in crunch time” and his poor shooting from the charity stripe.

Rodman didn’t believe that Shaq was a “total package” that the former would pay $120 million had he been an owner.

“I mean, $120 million?” Rodman said. “No way in hell. If I was an owner, no way in hell I’d ever pay a man $120 million if he’s not the total package. I wouldn’t do it.”

 O’Neal was quick enough to fire back at Dennis and Chuck. He said:

 “They’re both jealous. It’s funny when a guy like Dennis Rodman was with a lesser team he didn’t talk as much but when he got behind Jordan and Pippen and they do all the work and he does less work he runs his mouth. He knows he wants to say something he can say it to me. He never says it to me on the court, never.”

Also Read: How a 2010 deal saw Magic sell his 4.5% stake in the purple gold

In his 8-year stint representing the purple & gold, Shaq made 7 All-Star appearances, 8 All-NBA selections, won 1 MVP, 3 titles, and 3 Finals MVPs. It’s pretty safe to say that the Lakers’ gamble paid off.

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About the author

Advait Jajodia

Advait Jajodia

A 20-year-old with a BBA degree specializing in marketing, Advait Jajodia is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush and a passionate basketball enthusiast. Advait has been immersed in the world of basketball since picking up a basketball at the age of 9. Excelling as a two-time national-level player, specifically as a point guard during the Golden State Warriors' dominant era, he draws inspiration from the electrifying style of Stephen Curry. Beyond the NBA, Advait finds joy in playing various sports, exploring intriguing conspiracy theories, and boosting his 2K rating to 99. He also holds admiration for athletes like Rafael Nadal, Virat Kohli, and Phil Foden, recognizing their exceptional skills.

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