LOS ANGELES -- Hey, Shaq. Jerry Buss wants to be buddies again.
Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, said in a rare interview that he has one regret regarding the shakeup of his team last summer: Shaquille O'Neal's angry reaction.
"I have not spoken to him," Buss said before Sunday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets. "I did call his agent and asked if we could have lunch before he left town. I plan on doing that again."
O'Neal has repeatedly expressed anger at the Lakers, general manager Mitch Kupchak and Kobe Bryant since being traded to the Miami Heat in July.
"Right now, his statements indicate he's not in a very good mood," Buss said with a smile. "He's bigger than I am, so I guess I'll wait a little bit." ------------------------------
Buss confirmed that O'Neal was offered around $45 million for two more years, meaning he would have been under contract for over $100 million over the next four seasons had he accepted the offer.
"Do I wish he had taken that? I wanted him to take it," Buss said. "Whether or not I would have still traded him or not, I'm not sure. It's hard to go back in history."
Buss said he eagerly awaits the Christmas Day game between the Lakers and Miami Heat -- O'Neal's first against the Lakers since the trade.
"I can't wait. I think that's going to be one of the biggest games in sports," Buss said. -------------------------------
I'm sure Shaq has a very special Christmas present in mind. ;)
And it's from another guy named Alessandro, go figure: I heartily endorse the part about changing the age requirement so that young players who have the raw talent (but haven't mastered the skill set yet)