Shaq takes on Lakers as rival Celtic

Updated: January 31, 2011, 1:05 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers fans got their first look at the Big Shamrock on Sunday.

Shaquille O'Neal, who played in Los Angeles from 1996-2004 and won three championships in the process, made his first trip back to Staples Center on Sunday as a member of the rival Boston Celtics.

O'Neal started at center and won the opening tip over Andrew Bynum. O'Neal played just 13 minutes in the Celtics' 109-96 win because of foul trouble. While Boston shot 60.3 percent as a team, O'Neal was 0-for-2 from the field and finished with zero points, six rebounds and two blocks.

"I think the only good defensive job we did was on Shaq tonight," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said after the game.

When Lakers public address announcer Lawrence Tanter announced that O'Neal fouled Bynum on the Lakers first possession, O'Neal was greeted by more boos than cheers from the L.A. crowd.

"Traitor!" yelled one fan. "You should retire!" screamed another.

Before the game, Jackson was asked what O'Neal brings to Boston.

"Humor," Jackson replied.

O'Neal, a 19-year veteran, entered Sunday averaging 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds on the season.

"He looks to me like he's getting some opportunities and he has some really good games," Jackson added. "I know he's going to be physical. He'll bring the physicality to it."

Kobe Bryant, whose relationship with O'Neal while they were teammates was famously dysfunctional, shared a high-five with the big man before the tip.

Since being traded from the Lakers in 2004, O'Neal has played for Miami, Phoenix, Cleveland and now Boston.

"We haven't talked for awhile," Jackson said. "I still get a Christmas card from him."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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