Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t like comparisons made between the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and his pairing with Kobe Bryant.
The big man, viewed as the most dominant player ever in the NBA, has a special legacy with the Lakers. The pairing between him and Kobe Bryant was the last to win 3 straight NBA titles. They made it to 4 Finals in 5 seasons, and were a real force to reckon with.
Shaquille O’Neal had all the physical tools and skillset to challenge for the GOAT tag. His performances in the 2000, 2001 and 2002 NBA Finals, during which he averaged over 30 points and 15 rebounds, are the stuff of legend. Entire NBA rosters had to be changed to accommodate big men who could pick up fouls.
Shaq’s impact on the NBA is indelible, and his legacy is as secure as that of anyone.
Why Shaquille O’Neal believes that LeBron & AD can’t match up to Shaq & Kobe
Shaq’s take on these comparisons is a nuanced one. According to him, each pairing has its own unique history and abilities:
“There will never be the next [Shaq and Kobe]. We don’t need them to catch up to us. Kobe and myself were not trying to catch Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] … Kobe and I, [our] legacy will never be duplicated. Or imitated.”
“We don’t want to get into the situation where they can be the next us because there will never be a next us,” O’Neal added. “Magic and Kareem can never be us. We could never be Magic and Kareem. And we can never be LeBron and AD.”
Magic x Kareem. Kobe x Shaq. LeBron x AD.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 17, 2020
Indeed, the air of dominance each of the duos that Shaq has named is difficult, if not impossible to replicate. LeBron is in the latter half of his prime and could conceivably regress a lot within the next year itself. Placing unreasonable expectations on a Lakers player isn’t something Shaq would approve of.