City Sports Report

Shaq says he & Kobe ‘definitely’ would’ve matched Jordan’s six

Shaquille O'Neal ponders a question (Photo by Jazz Johnson)

Shaquille O’Neal will go down as one of the most dominant players to ever play in the NBA.  At his peak, Shaq was an unstoppable force on the basketball court.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at some of his mind-boggling stats.  In his MVP season of 1999-2000, he led the league in scoring with 29.7 points per game, while shooting 57% from the floor.  He also averaged 13.6 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 3.8 assists.

In his three Finals wins with the Lakers, Shaq averaged 38 points, 16.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 2000, 33, 15.6 and 3.4 in 2001 and 36.3, 12.3 and 2.8 in 2002.  In 2004, it was easy to see the rift between Shaq and Kobe explode.  Shaq was still as dominant as in the first three championships, shooting an amazing 63% from the field while scoring 26.6 per game.  Kobe scored 22.6 per game in that series as well, but shot 38% while averaging close to 23 shots per game.  Shaq, meanwhile, only averaged just under 17 shots per contest.  That was the last time the two played on the same NBA team.

At an NBA on TNT media event on Monday, Shaq reflected on his time with Kobe.  “When I get inside position and you shoot a jumper, then you shoot another jumper” Shaq said on his frustration of playing with Bryant.  Still, defending Kobe, Shaq said “I guess I can understand his point of view too, ‘I’m open too.’

Later, Shaq touched on the idea of teammates needing to get along.  “I think it’s a misconception about players have to like each other.  The key word is respect.  You don’t have to like me.  Don’t matter if you like me, but I know you respect me when I got somebody on my back…and guess what?  When I get doubled I respect you enough to throw it out.”  Shaq continued talking about the success he shared with Kobe, and peaked into an alternate universe to see what could have been.  “That’s how we were able to win three in a row. If we would have stayed together, could we probably have got six?  Definitely man.”  We will never know what would have happened if Shaq and Kobe stayed together, but six would definitely have been possible.

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