Shaq Returns to Lakers’ Lineup
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Shaquille O’Neal, a man of few words for the media since being suspended for three games last week, spoke briefly with reporters before Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
``I haven’t got anything nice to say yet, I’d rather save my money,″ O’Neal said at his locker before playing in his first game since Jan. 12, when he swung at Brad Miller following a flagrant foul by the Chicago center in the fourth quarter of a 106-104 overtime loss to the Bulls.
O’Neal was ejected from that game, and two days later suspended by the NBA for three games without pay and fined $15,000, costing him more than $700,000.
O’Neal, averaging 25.6 points and 10.7 rebounds, hadn’t spoken on the record with local reporters since the suspension, speaking only with the New York Times.
He told that newspaper he warned Miller several times before taking action.
When asked if he was upset with the local media, O’Neal replied: ``Oh, no, never, especially not my media. I love the L.A. media, even Plaschke, it’s nothing personal.″
O’Neal referred to Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, who wrote O’Neal was to blame for taking a swing at Miller, no matter how much he might have been provoked.
The Lakers were 2-1 during O’Neal’s suspension including a 98-81 victory at San Antonio on Saturday, and are 5-3 without him this season.