Friday, December 28, 2007

Shaq Demands Pat Riley Trade Himself For Phil Jackson

Miami, FL (Dec. 28) - Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, frustrated by the team's awful start, has issued a trade demand: coach Pat Riley for coach Phil Jackson.

"It's just not working," O'Neal said to reporters gathered beneath him after yesterday's practice. "Normally, I'd demand a trade for myself -- but I like Miami. I'm a beach kind of guy.

"So the way I see it, y'all might as well trade the coach. You can't trade the players."

O'Neal, according to sources, has told Heat officials that the team has two weeks in which to broker a Riley-for-Jackson deal. If it doesn't happen in the prescribed time, then O'Neal says he'll step in and mediate negotiations.

"It's GOING to happen," a friend of O'Neal said. "Shaq will make sure of it."

"Look, I think y'all can see that we pretty much suck," Shaq said. "Coach Jackson can get us out of this funk. I have complete confidence in Phil. I look forward to working with him again."

With that, O'Neal walked up to Riley, who was also addressing reporters, and clapped him on the back.

"I'll text you later," O'Neal told Riley before leaving with his posse.

Riley nodded and said, "I think a deal is imminent. You can see the writing on the wall. Something's up," he added. "It looks like it's going to be me."

Jackson's representative, agent Mark Hampshire, said thru a spokesman, "Phil is coach of the Lakers until further notice. That won't ever change -- until 10 a.m. Monday, possibly. Maybe. We'll see."

The Lakers and Heat have scheduled a press conference for 10 o'clock Monday morning.

"Nothing to say until then," Lakers spokesman John Black said. When pressed, Black added, "Talk to Diesel," a reference to O'Neal.

It was clear yesterday that O'Neal is spearheading the trade talks, and friends say he is working "tirelessly around the clock" to get a deal done soon.

"Shaq hates losing. HATES it," a friend said. "He sees the Riley trade as the only hope to salvage this season. Stay tuned."

League sources say that O'Neal has gone so far as to let every team know that Riley is available.

"He's been shopping him (Riley), definitely," one GM said.

O'Neal added that he would be unavailable for comment over the weekend while he "hammers things out."

Meanwhile, Riley said, "Until Shaq tells me otherwise, I'm the coach -- AND president -- of the Miami Heat. What else can I say?"

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