SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) _ Shaquille O'Neal was unhappy Tuesday as the Los Angeles Lakers finished their final session of a six-day preseason training camp at UC Santa Barbara.

But the source of his discontent had nothing to do with practice.

Some publications have said the Lakers would finish as low as fourth in the NBA's Western Conference _ behind San Antonio, Houston and Utah. O'Neal saw one, and didn't like it.

``I've got to show them who the big men in the West really are,'' O'Neal said. ``I'm going to kill them again.''

The Lakers swept four games from San Antonio last season.

O'Neal issued a challenge to 7-footers David Robinson and Tim Duncan of the Spurs.

``I don't like David Robinson anyway,'' the Lakers' center said in a quiet voice. ``Tim Duncan is too light. ... I'm starting to get like Mike Tyson. I'm coming back.

``None of them do nothing with me. If they don't like it, they can come to me on the court or off the court.''

Derek Harper, whom the Lakers signed last week to add some experience and leadership to the team, took O'Neal's outburst as a good sign.

``It (the article) should be insulting to him,'' Harper said. ``He'll use it to his advantage. He wants respect. The only way to get respect is to beat Utah and advance past the conference final.

``Shaq wants a ring. I want a ring. But Robinson wants a ring, too. (Karl) Malone and (John) Stockton want a ring. I know what those teams are doing. They're preparing for war.''

Harper said the Lakers' hopes for a championship revolve around O'Neal.

``We're going to go as far as he takes us,'' Harper said.