Take Your Pick; Shaq or Kobe?

  • Andy Flint

Before there was Batman and Robin in Miami, or CP3 and Blake in Lob City, or Stat and Melo, or Durant and Westbrook, there was a certain Los Angeles duo who took the NBA by storm, winning three championships and providing plenty of off the court drama. No, i’m not talking about Derek Fisher and Rick Fox. That’s right, it’s Shaq and Kobe time; not to be confused with #TebowTime. Who ya got?

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the all time most dominant big men, along with being one of the league’s most recognizable personalities. Perhaps he hung on for a little to long toward the end of his career, but Shaq is unquestionably one of the top players of his era. He averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game from 1992-2004. But I’ll try not to list all of his statistical achievments, because we’ll be here all day. On the defensive end, his size and strength terrified opposing polayers from getting to the rim. Additionally, he would block shots with the best of them. Primarily in his earlier years with Orlando, Shaq was also very nimble for someone of his size, and got up and down the floor pretty well. The only way to slow him down was to put him on the free throw line, a la Hack-a-Shaq.

The Black Mamba is no slouch, either. Just when everyone was ready to write him off after the failed CP3 trade and shipping out Lamar Odom, Kobe has put the Lakers on his back all season. And just when everyone was starting to think he can’t win without Shaq, what does he do? Win a nother two championships. Nobody in the league today is a greater competitor than Mr. Bryant, and perhaps only a certain Michael Jordan can be called a greater competitor than Kobe. He’s extended his career in his older age by adding a post game to compensate for his decreased athleticism.

So, who will go down in the history books as the better player?

If they are both in their prime, give me Shaq. Although Kobe was quite the force as well, Shaq was literally unstoppable. His unmatched size and strength made him, in my opinion, the most dominant force in the league. All you had to do was get the ball over halfcourt, dump the ball into the post, and get out of the way. He made 7 foot professional defenders look like little  boys. Again, absolutely no knock on Kobe. But if I can have a dominant perimeter scorer and a dominant big man, give me the big man. The problem here is that when Shaq started to lose some of his game with age, he did so at a much faster rate than Kobe.

Who will go down with the greater legacy?

This one is tough. Primarily because Shaq is currently retired, and Kobe is in strong pursuit of another ring. As is already, Kobe still has the edge on Shaq, with 5 championships the big man’s 4. But then we get into the conversation of who was “the guy” when they won their 3 rings together. And that gets messy. But I have to think that Kobe has another championship in him; don’t ask me when it is, but this guy is on a mission. And if that happens, it’s 6 rings to 4. If that’s the case, Kobe will have the greater legacy. At that point, is he at Jordan’s level? Just food for thought.

Overall, who do you take?

I have to take Kobe here, overall. And this is tough for me to say, because I would like to build my team around a dominant big man. Kobe’s intangibles are what pushes him ahead of Shaq. He raises the level of his teammates live nobody in the league today; and that’s saying something, since there’s a guy named LeBron James makes his teammates look great. Also, Kobe has extended his career for longer than people thought, and is having one of his best seasons. His toughness and competitiveness are almost unmatched. Kobe, you win, for now.

Follow me on Twitter @SKNBAGuy

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Andy Flint

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