Kareem's Insider Secrets of Episodes 7 and 8 of "Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers"
Lakers Three-peat NBA Championships, Kobe and Shaq's Bitter Rivalry, Phil Jackson Gets Fired and Rehired, Shaq Gets Traded, Another NBA Championship
There’s a lot of telenovela melodrama in Episodes 7 and 8. By comparison, my years with the Lakers were relatively smooth and uneventful. We just played basketball. But the nine years (2000-2009) covered in these two episodes are filled with sound and fury, signifying intense rivalries and hard feelings. Sure, the Lakers managed the amazing feat of pulling off a three-peat of NBA championships, but the bickering and posturing also tore the team apart.
Phil Jackson versus Jerry West.
It was hard watching the footage about Phil Jackson telling Jerry West to “get out of the locker room”—in front of the team. And that Jerry retired from the team shortly after as a result of the daily pressures of being General Managers. I get that Phil needed to assert his authority, but that was an unnecessarily cruel way to go about it.
I admit my bias. I’ve known Jerry since I was 14 (for more than 60 years, for those counting). He always treated me with respect, looked out for me, and was a good friend. As a player, coach, and GM, he was responsible for the Lakers winning many championships. He brought in Shaq, Kobe, and Phil, creating the foundation for the Lakers’ three-peat. He should’ve been treated with greater respect by Phil.
Kobe and Shaq backlash when Mitch Kupcheck replaces Jerry West.
I was surprised to hear that Kobe and Shaq used to hurl basketballs against the window of Mitch’s office as a prank. I certainly understand their motivation: they were Jerry West fans. After all, Jerry had brought them to the Lakers. They needed to express that frustration. But it wasn’t Mitch’s fault. He was doing his job—and doing it very well.
A three-peat has only happened five times in NBA history (although Red Auerbach’s Celtics won eight in a row from 1959-1966!). For three seasons, Kobe and Shaq were in sync and able to propel the team to greatness. It must have felt to Lakers fans like this dynasty would last forever—or at least as long as the Celtics’. But the cracks were starting to show.
As much as I celebrated the Lakers extraordinary success, I couldn’t help but commiserate with Nets’ coach Byron Scott, my old Showtime teammate and close friend. I knew that he wanted to win, but he must have had some mixed feelings about battling against his former team in the Finals.