The NBA has steadily progressed into a worldwide phenomenon, with the Golden State Warriors capturing the 2017 championship after the acquisition of Kevin Durant. One of the brilliant parts about the NBA, and sports in general, is the discussions that are created talking about the history of the game.
Throughout the history of the NBA, many legendary championship teams have stood out amongst the rest, with a few teams having a legitimate case as the greatest team of all-time. After the addition of Durant, the Warriors joined the conversation as potentially the greatest team of all-time, joining the likes of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls dynasty and the early 2000s Los Angeles Lakers, led by the ultimate 1-2 punch of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Durant joined Bill Simmons for a podcast on The Ringer, and was asked which team throughout history would give the Warriors the most issues. Durant immediately brought up the 2001 Lakers championship team:
“That 16-1 team, that Lakers team would’ve been tough because Shaq was just big […] That team was bigger, you needed some size to get them, but they were bigger and Kobe was in rare form. But we got a lot of length and we got a lot of quickness on the perimeter I don’t think they could’ve stopped. And we could’ve threw a couple guys at Kobe but it would’ve been tough.”
Durant knows the Warriors would have all kinds of problems containing Shaq, who was unstoppable. However, Durant also believes the Warriors would make life difficult on him as well:
“We would definitely put Shaq in a lot of pick-and-rolls. Make him guard Steph, me, Klay coming off pick-and-rolls. We would double him every time he got the ball and make him be a passer, because nobody doubled him. Like hard doubles, I’m talking as soon as he catches the ball.”
O’Neal resided as the most dominant player in the NBA at the time, capturing the 2000-01 MVP award after an unbelievable season. The 15-time All-Star averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.0 blocks per game, while shooting 57.4 percent from the field. He and Kobe as a duo could arguably rival anyone in NBA history.
This matchup between the Lakers and Warriors has been discussed for some time, with some Lakers actually giving their two cents. O’Neal, as expected, emphatically stated that the Lakers would defeat the Warriors, while a few other members from that 15-1 team commented on how the Warriors panned out during the playoffs.