Shaquille O’Neal: Why L.A. Lakers Fans Will Always Love to Hate Him

Love and hate may be the strongest human emotions, but in my opinion they are also the most ironic. In order to truly hate someone or something, you have to love them first.

Just think about it it.

There are probably people in your work life or social life whom you truly despise, but they don't elicit the same emotions or response as someone or something you have made yourself vulnerable to.

And exposing your own vulnerabilities is all love really is, and when that moment of trust is met with betrayal, then comes the hate.

Former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal may be the embodiment of the love/hate relationship for fans of the franchise, because it's impossible to ignore Shaq's importance during the Lakers three-peat seasons from 2000-2002.

But it's equally hard to dismiss the manner in which O'Neal chose to disassociate himself from the Lakers as well.

Many people have debated whether or not O'Neal or Kobe Bryant were most responsible for the Lakers dynasty-ending divorce, but there is something larger at play that goes far beyond the finger pointing.

Kobe and Shaq are both to blame for their split following the 2004 season, but Lakers fans' love of Shaq crossed the line to hate when O'Neal decided he was actually larger than the franchise.

Shaq forgot that he was a part of something much bigger than his frame and ego, and that's why any true Lakers fan reserves the right to hate Shaq as much as they please.

Of course Shaq was the driving force behind three of the Lakers 16 NBA Championships, but are they more important than the titles that came before him or after? 

Those not associated with the Lakers have accused the franchise's fans of disrespecting Shaq's role during his championship years, but I'm guessing those people are not fans of the Boston Celtics.

Shaq did help the Lakers win three champio...

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