Appearing on CNBC’s "Fast Money Halftime Report," the former LA Lakers star reflected on James’ move, the rise of superteams and the overall state of the NBA.
“He’s a very marketable guy ... but you must win at some point,” O’Neal said about James.
O'Neal, who played eight seasons for the Lakers from 1996-2004, won three championships alongside Kobe Bryant while in LA. He said winning championships is what helped make him the businessman he is today.
“When I was there [in LA] doing stuff, I was taking a lot of flack for not winning," O'Neal said. "Once I started winning, then everything was like on steroids. It elevated for me, business-wise.”
James has dozens of top-tier endorsement deals, appears in commercials, has his own production company, and has appeared on TV shows and in the Hollywood movie “Trainwreck,” but the three-time NBA champion has an uphill battle in Los Angeles. He joins a team that finished the 2017-2018 season 35-47, failing to make the playoffs.
“I think for him to be considered a great Laker, he definitely has to win a championship,” said O’Neal.
James joins an already crowded West Coast. The Golden State Warriors of Oakland, California, have built what some refer to as a superteam, filled with some of the biggest stars in the game: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson. Winning three championships in the last four years, the Warriors don’t seem to be letting up after a major postseason signing of four-time NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
“In my opinion, this is the most talented starting five in the history of the game,” O’Neal said. “The good thing about the Golden State superteam is they play an excellent style of basketball."
As much fun as the Warriors are to watch, O’Neal said superteams are watering down the game of basketball. “We grew up watching Magic and Larry Bird duke it out, Isaiah and Mike duke it out, we grew up watching Tim Duncan and the Lakers duke it out. Now you have all these guys on one team. Hopefully, one day it gets back to that,” he said.