At the beginning of the millennium, the Los Angeles Lakers made history by completing a three-peat in 2002 — just the sixth one in NBA history.
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal created perhaps the most dominant duo the league has ever season to lead L.A. to three consecutive titles back then. During the 2000-01 regular season, both of them averaged over 28 points per game — doing so as only the second pair of teammates in NBA history, behind Elgin Baylor and Jerry West on the 1961-62 Lakers.
During the 2001 playoffs, the Purple and Gold went 15-1, dropping just one game on their way to the title as the only team ever at the time. As of 2022, their feat has only been matched by the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors, who triumphed in the NBA after a 16-1 postseason.
However, a member of the 2000-01 Lakers, Robert Horry, thinks L.A. would have an edge over the 2016-17 Warriors in a direct matchup:
We win..Shaq fouls everyone out https://t.co/aejqd7EcYD
— Robert Horry (@RKHorry) May 18, 2022
A duel between Bryant and O’Neal’s Lakers and Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant’s Warriors would certainly make for an all-time NBA classic. But to Horry’s point, it’s hard to imagine Golden State’s small-ball death lineup successfully containing O’Neal in his prime.
Although Zaza Pachulia started 15 games for the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, he clocked in just 14.1 per game, as Draymond Green — who’s 6-foot-6 — spent a huge chunk of his minutes at the center that year.
Green claims he could ‘get a stop’ if matched up with Lakers’ O’Neal
Green won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award back in 2017, cementing his status as an all-time great on the defensive end. And he recently said that despite the difference in size, he would love to match up with O’Neal.
On his podcast, Green admitted he would likely not be able to completely stop the legendary Lakers center in a game. However, the Warriors star thinks he could still do well against O’Neal.
“[Of] course I can’t guard Shaq, but I can get a stop. I ain’t saying I’m going to stop him relatively, but I think at some point, I’m going to get a stop,” he said.
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