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UPDATED: 09:44, July 15, 2004
Shaquille O'Neal traded to Miami Heat
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NBA All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal was traded from Los Angeles Lakers to Miami Heat on Wednesday for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a future first round draft pick.

"You don't get many chances to acquire the best player in the league and this was a trade I felt we had to make," said Heat president Pat Riley.

O'Neal, 32, spent eight seasons with the Lakers and helped the team win three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. O'Neal was voted Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals in each of those years.

In Miami, O'Neal will team up with guard Dwyane Wade, a spectacular rookie, to make the Heat one of the favorites to win the NBA's Eastern Conference next season.

The trade is seen by many as signaling the end of a Lakers' dynasty which saw the team reach the NBA finals four times in the last five years.

The Lakers on Saturday hired coach Rudy Tomjanovich to replace Phil Jackson following the team's defeat to the Detroit Pistons in this year's NBA finals.

Lakers' another superstar Kobe Bryant is also likely to join the exodus with local rivals the Los Angeles Clippers making a strong bid to sign the free agent guard.

Forward Lamar Odom returns to Los Angeles where he began his NBA career with the Clippers and joined Miami in August 2003. He is a member of the U.S. men's Olympic team for Athens.

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