Lakers legend Shaq reveals truth behind LA exit

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Former Lakers legend Shaquille O'Neal says a difference of opinion over money was the reason he was traded from LA to Miami in 2004.

The 15-time All-Star won three championships with the Lakers, yet saw his eight-year stint in Los Angeles come to an abrupt end when he was sent to play for the Heat - with whom he won a further NBA title in 2006 - in exchange for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round pick.

"It was a money situation, I was getting older," he said on TNT's Inside Stuff in an interview that was quoted by the Los Angeles Times. "They wanted me to take less money. I wasn't going to do that, so they traded me to Miami."

O'Neal, the dominant center who was also a two-time scoring champion, Rookie of the Year award winner and a four-time Finals MVP, also spoke candidly about Kobe Bryant.

While the two historically appeared to share a rather fractious relationship, the 41-year-old - who eventually retired from the NBA in June 2011 following a year with the Boston Celtics - has moved to rebuke suggestions that the two had a particularly bad relationship.

"We didn't have a bad relationship, because we won three out of four championships.That's not a bad relationship at all."

Indeed, O'Neal also went as far as to suggest that, if had remained at Staples Center with Kobe rather than moving to South Beach, the duo would have won two or even three more rings together.

"Probably five. I'm going to go with five or six," he added.

O'Neal, who is surely a lock to enter the Hall of Fame in the future, has forged a successful career as a basketball analyst since retiring from the sport, with his entertaining verbal exchanges with former All-Star forward Charles 'Chuck' Barkley becoming a staple of TNT's NBA coverage.

L.A. Lakers
Kobe Bryant
Western Conference

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