Shaquille O’Neal is widely considered one of, if not, the best big man in the history of the NBA. O’Neal has also been fortunate to play with three of the most talented guards in league history as well teaming with Penny Hardaway on the Orlando Magic, Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat.
These days, super teams are the standard in the NBA, with three or more stars teaming up. But during O’Neal’s era, forming a duo with Bryant was more than enough to dominate the league. What hasn’t changed, regardless of the time, is that if the stars don’t have chemistry, it won’t work.
That is something O’Neal reflected about on Inside the NBA, saying that embracing his young teammates in Penny and Kobe was the best decision he ever made:
“As a superstar, the best decision I ever made in my life was when I decided to let my young dogs play. Like, when I first came in, it was all about me. I wanted to do everything by myself. There was a kid named Penny, Hardaway, I let him play. We both went to work. Then when I got to L.A., I left Orlando, kind of wanted to do the same thing (by myself). But then I said, you know what, ‘Kobe, play with me.’ Best decision I made.”
Many would look at this and draw comparisons with the current Lakers team with LeBron James and the young core of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Of course, none of the Lakers’ young players are at the level of Kobe or Penny as of yet, but there have been some questions about the chemistry between the two sides.
Shaq eventually understood that embracing his young stars was essential to his success and he would go on to win four championships, establishing himself as the ultimate dominant force in the NBA.