The Los Angeles Lakers have a history matched by few professional sports franchises, rivaled only by the Boston Celtics in the NBA.
It helps that some of the greatest players ever have spent time winning championships for the Lakers. Be it Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West the logo himself or any number of hall of famers the franchise has proudly featured.
And with superstar players, come superstar-clad teams. The “Showtime” Lakers were iconic, led by the Magic Man and The Captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While some spend time arguing the greatest of all-time in all of the NBA, the debate for greatest Laker is a tough one on it’s own.
When it comes to picking the greatest Lakers duo ever, though, Shaquille O’Neal has no doubt about it. Kobe and Shaq were the greatest one-two punch to ever wear the purple and gold. Shaq is a the featured celebrity guest for the latest edition of Oprah’s Master Class, and the preview for what’s to come was fascinating.
“Shaq and Kobe had problems, but guess what, we’re the most dominant Lakers one-two punch. Little guy-big man ever, in the history of the Lakers, and that goes for Magic and Kareem also. No disrespect, it doesn’t get more enigmatic, more eccentric than the relationship Kobe and I had,” Shaq said.
The tension between the two eventually led to a split following a failed NBA Finals appearance against the Detroit Pistons. The two have since reconciled, but Shaq acknowledged their partnership was far from perfect at time, drawing comparison to The Beatles.
“Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, on the court, had a perfect relationship. Off the court, at times we bumped heads. It happens.
“One of my professors from Barry University, Doctor Kopp, he did his thesis on The Beatles, and I read it, and I never knew that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had problems. I never knew that. They bumped heads all the time, but guess what, they’re one of the greatest acts of all-time,” Shaq said.
While there was definite head-bumping along the way, it sounds like the two rarely made it a direct confrontation.
“The crazy thing about it is we would only go back at each other through the media. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. Kobe’s guy was Jim Gray… my guy was Jim Hill… it was always like little shots. ‘Ah Shaq’s not rebounding,” ‘Well I’m not gonna rebound if you’e taking all the shots.’ But in practice, we never had a problem,” Shaq said.