LeBron James and Anthony Davis created a formidable partnership en route to leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their 17th NBA title last season.
The quality of their performances, particularly in the Orlando bubble, prompted many to compare the two All-Stars to the great Laker tandem Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant formed at the turn of the century. Davis averaged 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the playoffs; James registered 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game.
They even made the All-NBA First Team together, marking the first set of Lakers teammates to accomplish the feat since O’Neal and Bryant did it in 2004.
But O’Neal disagrees with the comparisons, telling ESPN that James and Davis will build their own legacy:
“There will never be the next [Shaq and Kobe],” O’Neal said. “We don’t need them to catch up to us. Kobe and myself were not trying to catch Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]. … Kobe and I, [our] legacy will never be duplicated. Or imitated. We don’t want to get into the situation where they can be the next us because there will never be a next us. Magic and Kareem can never be us. We could never be Magic and Kareem. And we can never be LeBron and AD.”
Bryant and O’Neal led the Lakers to a three-peat between 2000-2002. Having signed their new contracts recently, Davis and James will most likely play together wearing the purple and gold jerseys until 2023, opening the door to notching a three-peat of their own.
Repeating Bryant and O’Neal’s success would definitely grant the two All-Stars a special place in the franchise’s history.
Vogel confident Davis and James will be ready by Opening Night
Due to the extremely short offseason, many wondered whether James and Davis would miss the first weeks of the new campaign in order to protect their health. They wound up playing in the final two preseason games, thought only logging minutes during the second half once.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel nonetheless said he expected James and Davis to be fit enough to compete against the L.A. Clippers on Opening Night.
“They’re not ready yet, but they will be on the 22nd,” Vogel said. “When we’re ready to start games, those guys will be ready to go.”
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