Shaquille O'Neal once stunned Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles with 3700-watt stereo speakers - “Can you believe how loud that stereo is?”

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal (right) with the LA Lakers in 1997

Shaquille O'Neal always had a reputation for being a loud and rambunctious party animal. He's a part-time DJ under the alias "DJ Diesel" when he's not analyzing basketball on TNT. He was the locker room clown, the most generous spender and exuberant personality in LA sports during his hey day in the City of Angels.

O'Neal once shocked his teammates, especially Kobe Bryant, a rookie at the time, with his boisterous 3700-watt stereo speaker. In 1997, when he first arrived in Los Angeles, Shaq drove around in a blue Ford Expedition.

It wasn't the engine or the cargo space that astounded everyone but the speaker system installed in the vehicle. It was extremely loud, to say the least.

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Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly followed Shaquille O'Neal around in 1997 for an interview.

He described the stereo speaker with horror and would mentally prepare himself whenever he had to endure a ride in Shaq's car. O'Neal would famously turn up the volume at Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, an entertainment district between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Whenever the car turned up at Melrose Avenue, the passengers in the car would know what was coming next. O'Neal would increase the volume all the way from 20 to 50, roll the windows down and watch the dread on the pedestrians' faces.

SI's Rielly asked him, practically shouting for the third time because nobody could hear themselves over the deafening sound of the stereo.

"MELROSE IS WHERE YOU REALLY CRANK IT UP?"

Two blocks later, Shaq turned down the volume and responded:

"I love to see the reactions, bro. Old people just hate it."

Rick Rielly started his interview trying to converse with O'Neal while his stereo speaker was booming. He addressed the speaker directly:

"DO YOU ALWAYS PLAY IT THIS LOUD?"

O'Neal:

"WHAAAT?"

Rielly:

"DOES IT HAVE TO BE THIS LOUD?"

O'Neal:

"NO, BRO, I HAVEN'T LOST ANY POUNDS."

It was then Rick Rielly realised that the interview wasn't going to be an easy one. He recalled a rookie Kobe Bryant also exclaiming how obnoxiously loud Shaq's speaker was.

"Can you believe how loud that stereo is?"

Shaquille O'Neal became the unexpected leader of LA Lakers

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the LA Lakers in 2001
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the LA Lakers in 2001

Shaquille O'Neal always had a loud personality but wasn't pegged as a leader or motivator entering the LA Lakers.

His time in Orlando wasn't very fruitful except All-Star selections, a scoring title and a trip to the NBA Finals. Hence, there were high hopes from O'Neal after his move to LA was announced.

When he arrived in LA, his then-head coach Del Harris was shocked to see how O'Neal had picked up the role of the team leader. Del Harris said at the time:

"We had heard he wouldn't do much voicing of his opinion here, but he has."

As reported by Reilly, O'Neal was a natural leader with the team. He was the most dominant force in the NBA and the best player on the roster.

Shaquille O'Neal chaperoned and mentored young players, ensured that everyone's vibe in the locker room was on the same page, motivated the team when they needed it. As per Reilly:

"Shaq is the leader of the team: He climbed all over La-Z-Boy forward Elden Campbell early in the year; he's chaperoning rookie guard Kobe Bryant through his teenage years, and he's keeping point guard Nick Van Exel somewhere in the vicinity of this planet."

Shaquille O'Neal's time in Los Angeles is described as one of the most dominant in league history. Big Diesel won an MVP, a scoring title, several defensive team selections, three consecutive championships and Finals MVPs.

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Edited by Bhargav
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