Suns News

Suns Notebook: Shaq, Lakers’ Bynum Had Memorable Encoutner in ’06

Shaquille O'Neal and Lakers center Andrew Bynum will match up again when the Suns host L.A. on Thursday night (8:30 p.m., TNT).
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Jerry Brown,
Nov. 20, 2008

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson aren’t the only two old acquaintances Shaquille O’Neal will meet up with when the Lakers and Suns play Thursday night.

When asked about his matchup with Andrew Bynum — who hopes to follow in the footsteps of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal in the litany of great Laker centers — O’Neal offered mainly shrugs and a half-hearted scouting report.

“He’s OK,” I just concentrate on what I have to do,” O’Neal said. “He’s seven-foot and he plays like a seven-footer. He gets a lot of easy baskets and does what he’s supposed to do.”

The two haven’t met up in almost two years (Jan. 17, 2006), but the 100-92 Laker win over Miami was a memorable matchup. In the second quarter, O’Neal dunked down a rebound over the 17-year-old Bynum’s head. On the next possession, Bynum called for the ball and faked O’Neal one way before spinning away for his own dunk. The two found each other quickly again on the other end and O’Neal answered a hard shove from Bynum with a forearm shiver that stopped play and drew double technical fouls.

“Andrew got real excited,” Jackson said at the time. “Shaq used him for a pogo stick on the play previous to that, and he kind of collapsed on the floor. He came back with a lot of energy and got a dunk on him. He’ll remember that one for a long time.”

Wednesday, Bynum told the Los Angeles Times, “We keep missing each other. It is going to be an interesting experience for me. He’s real big, so I’m just going to try and keep him away from the rim.”


Suns coach Terry Porter said the Lakers are the team to beat in the West and are playing even better than the team that won the conference last year.

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“Guys are more confident, their second unit has really come together and they are more aggressive defensively,” he said. “There is a certain confidence about them, and they have that edge when you watch them.”

Porter will put Raja Bell on Kobe Bryant as much as possible with Matt Barnes and Boris Diaw in reserve. But Porter is not expecting Bryant to be neutralized.

“I haven’t found that magic pill yet, and I’m not the only one in line looking for that pill,” Porter said.

“There’s no doubt he’s the best player in the game. No doubt in my mind. In every basketball situation, if I had one pick … it would be Kobe. To stop somebody, to score against somebody, to get that rebound, that steal, last shot of the game — it would be Kobe.

“It makes you look really smart as a coach when you give him the ball and say, ‘Go win it for me.’ ”


Knowing both recent Suns teams and O’Neal well, Jackson has a unique perspective on the trade that sent Shawn Marion to Miami and changed Phoenix’s approach.

“I didn’t think one way or another about it working,” Jackson said. “I just thought this: That they understood that they had reached their pinnacle perhaps of what that team could do with the type of game they had. To go any farther towards the goal of a championship, they thought that maybe they should make a change.

“They had knocked at the door a little bit and they hadn’t got past the finals in the West, and this was probably the time for them to get it while the window was open, so to speak, with the group they have.”


Porter said the Suns still haven’t spoken at length with Leandro Barbosa, who remains in Brazil dealing with family matters following the death of his mother. He’ll probably miss at least Saturday’s game with Portland. The Suns then have two days off before traveling to Oklahoma City on Tuesday. ... Porter said guard Alando Tucker hasn’t been cleared for court work more than two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Nov. 4 and it will likely be “a while” before that happens.

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.