The Los Angeles Lakers are known for always having some of the league’s best players on their roster. From the early days of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the ‘Showtime’ era, the Lakers could always count on a superstar or two.
Most recently, the Lakers enjoyed arguably the greatest one-two punch in NBA history as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002. Kobe would bring the franchise two more later on in his career, but both were absolutely unstoppable on the offensive end.
That belief is backed up by the players they squared off against. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype recently asked current and former players who were the toughest players to guard and unsurprisingly, many players named Kobe Bryant. Former Cavaliers wing Anthony Parker explained what made Kobe so tough to stop:
“Kobe Bryant was hardest. You had to respect every pump-fake, jab-step and shoulder-fake because he had the green light to try whatever he wanted and the talent level to pull it off.”
In addition to Parker, players such as J.J. Redick, DerMarr Johnson, Ricky Davis, and Jamal Crawford mentioned Kobe as well.
Not to be outdone, O’Neal was also named and former Laker Kwame Brown reminisced about having to try and stop the Diesel:
“The hardest player to guard was Shaquille O’Neal because of his size and speed. When he could still move, it was crazy. You would need two days for your body to recover after playing against him.”
The fact that both players were named when players spoke about who was the toughest to guard shows why the Lakers were a dynasty during the early 2000s. Trying to stop either Kobe or Shaq was tough enough on its own, but containing both was simply impossible.
While it is always great to be praised from fans and the media, there is a different feeling when fellow players give that same praise. Both Shaq and Kobe are two of the greatest players of all-time and their opponents will always remember the battles of trying to stop them.