Shaquille O’Neal Takes Shot at Lakers Over In-Season Tournament Banner

Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Hall-of-Fame center Shaquille O'Neal.

The Los Angeles Lakers became the first-ever In-Season Tournament champions with a victory over the Indiana Pacers on December 9. They held a banner-raising ceremony to celebrate their eventual loss to the New York Knicks on December 18.

Except, as Hall-of-Fame Laker Shaquille O’Neal points out, they really didn’t hang a banner.

O’Neal isn’t suggesting some sort of Mandela Effect – the phenomenon in which objects and moments in history occurred differently than most people remember. This was just different.

“It was a loophole there,” O’Neal said via Bleacher Report on December 22. What colors are the banners? … It’s not really a banner. It’s a flag, what I call a accoladed flag.”

The Lakers took plenty of flack on social media for the ceremony.

Several have pointed to an old video of late Lakers great Kobe Bryant — who hung five banners for the Lakers — in which he noted the high standards in the organization wouldn’t allow for non-championship banners to be hung in the rafters of Lakers’ home gym.

But O’Neal – who helped put three banners in the rafters of the then-Staples Center alongside Bryant – does count the banner/flag, just as long as the distinction between it and the NBA Finals championship banners remains clear.

“It is a championship,” O’Neal insisted. “But the loophole is, like I said, it’s a accoladed flag.

“If they would have had it yellow, I would have been upset. Because it’s black and gold, it’s an accoladed flag. So I don’t mind.”

Lakers Raise Banner to Celebrate In-Season Tournament Championship

While the Lakers have always been associated with their purple and gold aesthetic, the banner’s color scheme appears to honor their City Edition uniforms. The look still utilizes the customary gold. Only it is over a black base rather than the customary purple.

O’Neal’s comments align with his initial reaction to the banner’s hanging.

“If you look at the real banners, they’re a certain color. This is just an ornament,” O’Neal said the night of the ceremony via TNT. “It’s not a banner because it doesn’t look like all the other banners. For example, I can’t put all this stuff on this [cup] and call it a Christmas tree. … This is just a ornament. They won the In-Season Tournament. It’s not a banner. It’s like decoration.”

Lakers Still Feeling Effects of In-Season Tournament Run

Adding to the consternation over the ceremony is the Lakers 1-5 record since returning to their regularly-scheduled slate. That includes a four-game losing streak that has left LeBron James and Co. searching for remedies.

James sat out the Lakers’ latest loss, a 118-111 affair against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 21.

The Lakers will try to get back in the win column on December 23 against the Oklahoma City Thunder – who come in riding a three-game winning streak – to close out their three-game road trip.

Things won’t get much easier for the road-weary Lakers, either.

They are just 5-11 away from their friendly confines this season. But they will close the calendar year out with back-to-back road tilts against the Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans on December 30 and 31, respectively.