The Los Angeles Lakers of the late 1990s and early 2000s featured one of the best duos in NBA history in center Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
The duo came together to win three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000-02 and made another finals appearance in 2004 ultimately being defeated by the Detroit Pistons.
O’Neal and Bryant’s inability to get along kept them from winning more championships, as the Lakers traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat after the 2004 season in exchange for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant, as well as a future first round draft pick that turned into Jordan Farmar.
While with the Heat, O’Neal won his fourth championship, finding a new guard companion in Dwayne Wade. In a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Vertical, O’Neal praised both of his former teammates, calling both Bryant and Wade future Hall of Famers:
Kobe and D-Wade will definitely be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day. Everybody needs to partner to win championships, and they were mine. A lot of guys always had the one-two punch to win a title, and now you’re seeing the Big Three. Kobe helped me get those first three and D-Wade helped me get that fourth one. They were my partners.
O’Neal is set to be a enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 9 with the 2016 class that includes Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Jerry Reinsdorf, Tom Izzo, Sheryl Swoopes, Zelmo Beatty, Darell Garretson, John McLendon and Cumberland Posey.
Perhaps the most dominant center of all-time, O’Neal played eight of his 19 seasons as a member of the Lakers. In his career he won many awards, including NBA Rookie of the Year in 1993, NBA Most Valuable Player in 2000, NBA Finals MVP three times (2000, ’01, ’02), as well as being named an All-Star 15 times and to the All-NBA team 14 times.