With the Golden State Warriors winning their third championship in four seasons, the talk has begun about where they rank amongst the greatest teams in NBA history. That means putting them up against the likes of the Bill Russell-led Celtics, Showtime Lakers, 1980s Celtics, 1990s Bulls, and the early 2000s Lakers led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
The 2001 edition of the Lakers is viewed as the best team of that era, sweeping through the Western Conference and losing just one game in their entire playoff run. Though the Kobe-Shaq era only lasted a couple more years after, many still consider the duo the greatest of all-time.
Bryant recently appeared on The HoopsHype Podcast with Alex Kennedy and while he stopped short of calling he and Shaq the NBA’s greatest duo, he was willing to go out on a limb for that ’01 squad:
“Well, look, I’ll take that ’01 team that we had against anybody in history of the game. Any team.”
The ironic thing about the 2001 Lakers is that they actually won the fewest regular season games of the three-peat teams. But just before the playoffs started, they flipped the switch and reached a level that very few teams have ever been at.
Bryant and O’Neal obviously led the way, but this team was full of outstanding role players to fill in all the cracks. Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Horace Grant, Brian Shaw, and Ron Harper all added something important to the team.
Where this team stacks up against the Warriors and the rest of the greatest teams in NBA’s history is anyone’s guess. But as Bryant said, with he and O’Neal at the forefront, they have a shot against anyone.
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