Dueling Three-Peats

Jeff Skibiski —  August 19, 2010

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As the Lakers look ahead to a possible second three-peat in the last 11 years, ‘Forum Blue & Gold’ plays a game of compare and contrast between the 2000-2002 Lakers and the current back-to-back defending champions. Who would win in a head-to-head match-up of these two teams (assuming we could clone Kobe and Derek Fisher, of course—scary thought for the league)?

The game has changed a lot since the glory days of Shaq + Kobe and Co., especially when it comes to the parity that exists in today’s NBA. During the Lakers’ last three-peat, the tandem, along with a venerable cast of role players, simply overpowered opponents with Shaq’s unmatched size and Kobe’s freakish athleticism. To that end, I vividly remember a Sports Illustrated cover circa 2000 that depicted Kobe and Shaq, with a giant headline that simply read: “Steamrolling.” NBA teams—the current L.A. squad included—still have the ability to dominate the league, but in recent years, the number of teams capable of doing so has drastically increased. Gone are the days when one NBA superpower is head and shoulders better than the remaining 29 teams.

The Lakers opponents in the Finals the past two years—Boston and Orlando—would likely have their way with the opponents that the team faced in the 2000-2002 NBA Finals. Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers club represented a solid, well-balanced opponent in the 2000 NBA Finals, but the Philadelphia 76’ers and New Jersey Nets nary offered a fight in the ensuing two Finals, winning a combined one game. In fact, you can make a case that in the championship runs from 2000-2002, the Lakers Western Conference Finals opponents—Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento—would have had their way against the Pacers, Sixers and Nets too.

From a player standpoint, the league has never been more competitive, with an influx of prominent players like Yao Ming and Tony Parker from overseas becoming mainstays on NBA rosters, along with All-Star teams. Sure, the Lakers from the previous three-peat team had to go up against the likes of vintage Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, but today’s NBA is chalk-full of like-minded athletes capable of leading their teams to titles (LeBron, Wade, Howard come to mind). While the NBA has historically been a superstar-heavy league, the pure global talent on rosters in 2010 is uncanny.

Whereas the Shaq and Kobe Lakers struggled to find a reliable third scoring option—excluding a brief cameo by Glen Rice—the current Lakers have an offensive arsenal that rivals any of the great L.A. lineups. Assuming Pau Gasol is cemented as the default number two option on offense, who even knows what the 2000-2002 Lakers could have accomplished with a player like Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest or Lamar Odom to fill the void as a third scoring option.

While the Lakers of yesteryear boasted several proven veterans like Robert Horry, Ron Harper, Rick Fox and Brian Shaw, they lacked the scoring punch that the 2010-2011 Lakers figure to have off their bench. By 2002, aging role players like Robert Horry and Rick Fox had moved into the Lakers starting lineup, leaving their bench exposed. After an offseason overhaul of the current team’s bench, the Lakers figure boast several weapons off of their bench, which should help dramatically in their bid to three-peat. Moreover, the 2000-2002 Lakers never had a sixth man anywhere near the caliber of Odom. The Lakers won their previous championships in large part due to the sheer magnificence of Shaq and Kobe (and some timely shooting from Horry, Fisher, Fox and Shaw, etc.), but this year’s title-contender will offer a much more balanced attack. Unlike the past two seasons, the Lakers will also throw proven veterans like Steve Blake and Matt Barnes at opponents, which was a key difference between the old and current Lakers prior to this offseason.

From an offensive standpoint, the ever-present triangle offense remains key, though this current Lakers squad strays from it on a more regular basis. The principle inside-out game is still central to the Lakers offense, maybe even more so on the current team thanks to its superior size over the 2000-2002 Lakers. Both teams make defense a priority, as evidenced by the Lakers latest display in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals.

Through it all, one thing that has remained unchanged between this year’s Lakers quest for a three-peat and the 2000-2002 Lakers has been the brilliance of Kobe Bryant and clutch shooting of Derek Fisher. As staples of the team’s past five title campaigns, Bryant and Fish have anchored the team’s focus and chemistry. While Bryant showed signs of greatness during his first three-peat, he is personifying it in this second attempt. His evolution as a leader is, in my opinion, the greatest difference between the 2000-2002 dynasty. If this current team joins the 2000-2002 team in NBA lore, Kobe figures to be the primary reason why.

Unfortunately, barring an epic NBA LIVE duel, we’ll never get to find out what kind of magic would go down if these teams faced off against one another in a best of seven series, so we’ll have to leave the result to our imaginations. Who wins in your ultimate battle of these (possible) three-peat teams?

Jeff Skibiski


to Dueling Three-Peats

  1. The 2000-2002 teams win without a doubt. The Shaq/Kobe duo, back then were thought unfair, since the best and 2nd best player in the league played on the same team. And they were just best players, but would eventually rival the best players in the history of the game. Kobe and Shaq will go down in the top 10, the early 3 peet had both in the primes of their career!

    I guess it all comes down to Shaq vs Pau. Pau is a great player, but we saw his true level when he was at Memphis never winning a playoff game and showing up at 1 all-star game in his career. The guy is a darn good player! But compared to Shaq he is a joke of the highest order.

    That’s the difference in my book. Prime Shaq/(whomever else you put at PF) would be miles ahead of what’s considered the Lakers strength, Pau/Bynum. Kobe is Kobe, but no one is Shaq.

    I would put that Kobe/Shaq team up against any team in the history of the league. Remember they lose like 1 playoff game in their 2nd title. I believe that’s a record. They were absolutely dominant. The 96 Bulls vs the 2001 Lakers would be a better matchup. In a 7 game series, i would most likely take the Bulls. If you put 2007 Kobe on that team, then i would take the Lakers easily. With a 2010 Kobe, it is a toss up.

    EDIT: I feel amiss that i didn’t mention that 2001 Kobe was incredible as well. His line for the playoffs that year were something like 30pts, 7rbds, 6assts on 47% FG%. Better than what Wade put up in his much talked about 2006 playoff run.


  2. To me it’s the 2000-2002 Lakers. That team simply knew how to dominate opponents. Whereas, this current incarnation of the team, seems like they have way more brain farts on both offense and defense, their soooo frustrating. But, their still our Champs. Go Lakers!!!!


  3. Three issues come to mind.

    Ain’t nobody as dominant on this Lakers iteration as Shaq was. It would take all our bigs stepping up to really effect his game. Thinking of it, I think the Spurs of those years provide us with a model for how these Lakers teams would have to play in order to beat the earlier Lakers teams. A multi-skilled PF of the highest caliber and a dynamic swingman, a defensive stopper, and a great coach. I think this Lakers team is easier compare to the earlier Spurs as Bynum is comparable to an old Robinson. Also, Fisher is more like Avery Johnson. I would suggest that the Lakers have a better bench then those Spurs did, that Kobe is better then Manu, Finley, or Steve Smith, and the difference between Kobe and those guys is bigger then the difference between Duncan and Pau. I would also suggest that Artest is as effective on D as Bowens but is a plus offensive player. Guys like Blake, Wow, Barnes, Ariza and whatnot are reasonably close to what Stephen Jackson, Sean Elliot, and Mario Ellie were when they played for the Spurs. So, my take is that the Spurs of that era were not a whole lot less then the Lakers of that era (who knows who wins a series between the two teams if Duncan hadn’t hurt his knee in 2000 and we know how things went in 2003). I think this Lakers team is a deeper and more talented version of those Spurs teams that went head to head with the Kobe/Shaq teams. I’m leaning towards these Lakers.

    That said, I understand that we live in times when what we see today seems better then what remember of the past.

    Did I mention that nobody on this team was the monster that Shaq was?


  4. I personally think that the current Lakers team would have beat the Lakers from 2000-2002. Looking at the 2000-2001 squad (which went 15-1 in the playoffs) you can see that the individual matchups were fairly even in some cases.

    Shaq was an incredible force, but he would not have been able to abuse Bynum the way he did to all of those Eastern Conference teams that lacked true centers. Both centers would have experienced foul trouble, but the current Lakers are much better equipped for situations where their starting center has to sit down.

    I think the current Kobe is a better player than Kobe from then, but you can still call it a draw.

    Artest is simply a better player than Rick Fox.

    Gasol is a much better player than Horace Grant in the twilight of his career.

    Fisher then beats Fisher now (but thats not the real story).

    The bench from 2000-2001 wasn’t as good as the current bench.

    Horry, who played basically the same role as Odom does, just did not have the talent that Odom does and nothing like the production of Odom.

    Brain Shaw (who was basically the only other body off the bench in a 7 man rotation) was, at that point in his career, not close to being the player that Blake is today.

    Barnes, Brown and potentially Character represent a kind of depth that was nowhere to be found on a 2000 team that featured Tyrone Lue as the 8th man.

    It should also be noted that Fisher vs Fisher might not be as accurate of a comparison over a 7 game series when Blake would likely take the bulk of the minutes leaving Fisher to face Fisher in crunch time. that matchup is not so bad for the current Lakers.

    Beyond the match ups which seem to favor the current bunch, I think there is little doubt that the current team is better defensively.

    2000-2001 Lakers were a good defensive team, but even then Shaq had issues with rotation and team wide that team just was not able to bring the physical intensity that the current team can.

    Detroit showed what that kind of defensive intensity could do to the Shaq led Lakers. I think this team would easily do the same and has massively more firepower than Detroit ever dreamed of.

    If the games ever got close it gets simple.

    Haq. A. Shaq.



  5. Now this is a post we all have been waiting for. Great summer time post. In my opinion Kobe then was better than Kobe now… despite what the media wants you to believe. Even with the presence of Shaq on the last two championship teams… when the real championship series took place both years (the WCF) it was Kobe who was the MVP of those series. Although the current Lakers teams are much better 3-10 those Laker teams were much better 1-2. And I’m a firm believer in 1-2 over 3-10. Thats most of the reason I am picking the Heat to beat our Lakers this season. But I think it would be one hell of a series! And either way… the Lakers win!!!!


  6. Tough one…

    1) Kobe v Kobe – I think they would cancel each other out, but I would give a notch to KB 24. A younger more athletic Kobe, vs a refined/crafty KB 24. I think KB 24 understands the needs of the team and the game better, but I’d call this matchup even.

    2) Shaq. Monster. Drew/Pau would have their hands full double teaming him all day long. This would leave Horry/Grant/Green to beat the Lakers, and the way Horry plays to spread the floor, Pau would be playing farther from the hoop. Shaq wins this, maybe not easily, but still with authority.

    3) Rice/Fox v Ariza/Artest. I give this to Ariza/Artest, as Rice has a glaring weakness on D.

    4) Grant/Horry/Green v Pau/Odom. Pau/Odom gets the nod

    5) Harper/Fisher/Shaw v Fish/Farmar/Sasha/Brown. I’ll give this to Harper/Fish/Shaw.

    This series would not be a gimme. Seven game classic where anything goes, with Shaq doing a lot of the heavy lifting for the 2000-2002 squad, and our forwards Pau/Odom being the difference makers for the current squad. The current advantage of Ariza/Artest would be offset by Harper/Fish/Shaw…. Seven games going down to the wire.


  7. I’m going with the team that had Shaq on it.


  8. Would 2011 be allowed to play SSZ?

    Who is going to guard current Kobe? I think ten year older Kobe will predict young Kobe’s moves accurately.

    I have no doubt the 09 team would beat the 02 team

    The current team would have pretty damn good scouting reports

    and the best way to hinder shaq was always by committee of seven footers. My money’s on the team with the wiser coach


  9. Shaq was _dominant_ But who is better?



  10. which set of rule are we playing by?
    2000 rule or 2010 rule?

    because back then shaq just camp in the lane on defense and ron artest can mug kobe all day

    on a scale of 10




  11. I disagree with Gpaul’s comment that the 2000-02 “team simply knew how to dominate opponents.”

    In 2001 they did, but in the other years it was a mix of talent, guile, luck and some would say favorable officiating that helped them get over the hump. Those Lakers didn’t dominate Portland in 2000; they didn’t dominate the Kings in 2002; and even though they beat the Sixers 4-1 a couple of those games were close enough to make you wonder.

    There were times those guys were dominant, but aside from that one season — when you really saw what that roster was capable of — I always felt like those Lakers were of the, “We’ll do enough to win, but never really fully rev up the engine and go all out” mode.

    Also, I have to disagree with Thomas’ assertion that Shaq “would not have been able to abuse Bynum the way he did to all of those Eastern Conference teams that lacked true centers.”

    I love Bynum, but let’s not go with revisionist history here. Shaq faced scrubs (Todd MacCulloch, Jason Collins) in the 2002 Finals, but in other seasons he was up against good post players.

    The 2000 Pacers had Rik Smits, who averaged close to 15 points per game over his career and was once an All-Star. The Davis boys also helped out, and they were good defensively as well.

    The 2001 Sixers had Dikembe Mutombo, an eight-time All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year. He earned both of those honors that season, when he was still dominant.

    Shaq had quality opposition in two of those three Finals. I don’t think Drew’s yet reached the level that Mutombo acheived at his peak. I hope he will soon, but he’s not there yet.

    All that said, I like this question and am not really sure who I’d favor. It makes for an interesting debate.


  12. Tough question, but looking at Shaq’s stats during those postseasons were like 30-15, something we won’t be getting from Pau and Bynum combined unless Bynum is healthy (which he isn’t).

    Kobe of old doesn’t have a bum finger, and while neither is the 81 pt Kobe, Kobe8 is closer to that Kobe than Kobe24.

    I do think it will be competitive, only because having Kobe’s on each team will make each game competitive, but in the end I think the older version will win since PJ won’t hack-a-shaq.


  13. The first three-peat team would kill this team, no doubt. 2 simple factors.

    1) Our dominant player of that era (Shaq) would dominate inside as he did against everyone in his prime. Bynum and Gasol would both be in foul trouble (not to mention worn out by that 300-pound monster). Our effective long front-court can barely handle Perkins and an over-the-hill Garnett, how would they stop an in-his-prime Shaq? They wouldn’t.

    2) Stronger role players (count in unit cohesiveness and overall chemistry here) Fox, Horry, Fish, Grant, Shaw, Harper were all players who knew their roles and played the perfect companions to our stars.

    Kobe would cancel himself out. Each version has its flaws and strengths. Young Kobe would get more points, older Kobe would play the game smarter, but in the end it’s a close draw.

    As an example, look at the Blazers of the three-peat era. They were quite similar to our current line-up. Big talented frontline (Sabonis, Wallace, Grant, D.Davis) talented wings (S. Smith, Scottie Pippen, Bonzi Wells) solid point guards (Stoudamire, Kerr) – and we were able to overcome them with Shaq, Kobe & Co.


  14. No way we should be comparing the upcoming team to past team. This upcoming team even with the better bench hasn’t won a chip yet. They need to do that first before any comparisons are made.

    That said, If we all agree that the games would be close, that the Shaq advantage would be offset to a degree by the current bench advantage and being a better defensive team, a fantastic scenario presents itself.

    Kobe vs Kobe to close out the games. How exciting would that be to see! The best closer in the game going up against a great clutch defender. Can you imagine the intensity. Sure the younger Kobe would be a half step quicker. But the older Kobe would have studied all the tapes and have the knowledge to make up that half step difference. Not to mention all the veteran tricks. Kobe himself has said that his footwork in those threepeat years wasn’t very good. And no superstar ref bias either.

    That is something that would be great to see.


  15. Old Lakers win by a landslide. The whole Shaq/Grant/Horry vs AB/Pau/LO isn’t even close because Shaq would dominate.

    Shaq (in his prime with us) alone vs our current three bigs isn’t even close


  16. this years lakers (bearing no injuries) would beat 2000-2002 lakers for sure! it might go to 6 or 7 but this years would win!

    like some of you have said:
    Bynum-Gasol-Odom > Shaq-Grant-Horry

    If bynum is healthy this year he alone could do well enough on shaq.

    and we have artest to guard young kobe.

    Remember defense wins championship and I think this years team is better defensively.

    And the celtics of last year were much better than the teams the 2000-2002 teams had to face in the finals


  17. I think we should wait to have this discussion till we actually three-peat 🙂

    An (arguably) more relevant discussion would be to compare the Lakers of the 80s that won 5 times against the Lakers of the new millenium.

    Lakers of the 00s:


    * – I’m leaving out Malone and Payton.


    Lakers of the 80s:


    Riley v/s Jackson

    Showtime v/s Zen !!


  18. Shaq was a beast in those days, but Bynum* is one of the few that’s big, long and strong enough to “contain” him to his averages of 28/14/4, provided he stays out of foul trouble. Gasol would school any of the various 4s the 2000-02 teams used, except for Horace Grant, who would just keep Pau to his season average. So let’s call it the 2001 Lakers they’re facing. Bynum and Grant are providing rebounding and D while Shaq and Gasol are more scoring punch and are the respective focal point(s) of the frontcourt. Bynum’s slight edge in scoring over Grant nearly balances out Shaq’s scoring edge over Gasol.

    So the frontcourts more or less balance out, with the advantage going to 2001. But it’s a 52/48 proposition, not 60/40.

    However, Odom off the bench really neutralizes Horry (while letting Shaq go one-on-one with Bynum), and Grant wouldn’t be able to keep up with Odom footspeed-wise, letting Lamar go to the rack and score or dish. 1996 Grant could, but it’s not 1996 Grant, no?

    Going a little deeper on the bench, Odom and/or Gasol up front with Powell or Mbenga (can’t judge Ratliff just yet with this team) would carve up any combination of Greg Foster (I forgot he was on this team) or Slava. Hell, Powell and Mbenga would destroy Foster/Slava. Not that it would ever happen, of course, but man was Slava a disappointment.

    Artest over Fox at the 3, no question. It’s not a dominating advantage, but it’s a clear one nonetheless. This was the defensive Fox, not the 2002-04 3-point bomber Fox, remember. He also ran the offense from his position extremely well, making few mistakes but not really ever being spectacular either. Artest also neutralizes his physicality, which was Fox’s other big asset against most of the league’s 3s at that time. The 2001 team didn’t have any particular depth at this position, unless Shaw or Kobe slid up to the spot. Devean George vs. Sasha would be something to behold though, if only to see who eventually made a 3 first. (Healthy) Walton vs. Fox is nearly a push, although in Fox’s favor. They fulfill similar roles: Make the smart play, don’t be a hero. Unless Doug Christie and his wife are around.

    Young Kobe vs. (I’ll say it) Old Kobe: Give me a minute to stretch out and think out loud. 8 was far more explosive (in scoring and personality), but 24 is so much craftier that even with less athletic ability as his disposal, I think he’d make 8 look silly. The pump-fakes, the footwork, the finally perfected fadeaway, all these would force 8 into a few silly fouls early (on an attempted block, for instance) and make him play with a chip on his shoulder, something he still does (though much less than back then). All it would take is a few extra “I’ll show you” Ill-advised 3s to make for some uncomfortable huddles and for Shaq to perhaps stop passing out of the post, or commit a dumb offensive foul. Don’t forget how dysfunctional this team could be. Transcendently good at times, but still f’ed up a lot of the rest of the time. 24 over 8, but 8 could still go off for 45 points at any time. I just think wily 24 would work him over mentally over the course of a series. Not going to dwell on backups since we know both of them are going to play 45+ minutes per game, just for the love of competing against one another.

    Fisher vs. Harper. To me, this is the interesting matchup. Two savvy vets with different overall skillsets but very similar mindsets, much like Fox/Walton’s role: Run the offense, do what’s necessary, the only difference is that every so often they do get to be the hero. Harper’s athleticism was gone by this point, but he was a very heady player at this stage of his career, and like Fisher rarely made the wrong play, and had a knack for coming through at just the right time with a timely 3/steal/sneaky doubleteam that would utterly disrupt the opponent’s flow. Harper’s size would allow him to see over Fisher at times, or post him up, which is why I tilt the balance in Harper’s favor. When they’d go to the bench, Fisher or Shaw would run roughshod over Farmar and Brown. Clear edge to 2001 in PG play, the only position where I see a clear advantage–keep in mind I’m grouping 4/5 as one, otherwise Shaq would have a rather massive edge over Bynum as opposed to a slight advantage for Shaq/Grant vs. Bynum/Gasol.

    In sum, I think it comes down (unfortunately) to frontcourt foul trouble, along with PG play. While 2010 has plenty of bodies to throw at Shaq, only Bynum (and Mbenga in extremely short stints) really have any chance of slowing him down at all, which as I mentioned above is just holding him to his season averages. You’re never going to stop him from getting a double-double with around 30 points, 4-5 assists and 2 blocks. I’d see this going 7 games, with each team getting a 20+ point blowout in (remember the 2000 Phoenix series–they lost by 25 and came back to crush them by 30 next time out). 2001 edges 2010 in a thriller Game 7 something on the order of 110-104, with 2010 mounting a furious rally from double digits down, only to falter when Bynum gets caught on a bad rotation with under a minute to go and Shaq hammers it down for an 8-point lead. Free throws determine the final, but the game is decided on that dunk.

    Man, I’d love to watch that game. Someone invent a time machine.

    On the flip side, here’s how 2010 pulls it off: 24 baits 8 into an awful game or two: First, he gets in 8’s head to start gunning and ends up with one of those 5-for-28 shooting nights, then maybe a double-technical ejection in the following game. 2010 runs 2001 out of the building after the ejection, even though Shaq has one of those insane 50/20 games, then 2010 closes 2001 out in 6, knowing if they go to a 7th The Diesel will be rolling on them.

    *Just for fun’s sake, I am positing a healthy 2010 Bynum and assuming he’d average something like 14/8 in the series. Gimpy Bynum has no chance against how fierce Shaq was in those days.


  19. #4 thomas,

    you wrote:
    “Shaq was an incredible force, but he would not have been able to abuse Bynum the way he did to all of those Eastern Conference teams that lacked true centers.”

    Bynum is my second favorite player on the Lakers. He is a stud! I actually think that a healthy Bynum could be just as important as Gasol, not only due to his offense, but specifically because he brings a toughness and a high caliber defender/intimidator down low.

    That said, either you aren’t old enough to have seen Shaq play in his prime or you have forgotten due to his current over-the-hill form. Shaq-Prime would have dominated every living being on the earth. It was not just his size, but rather his size + strength + quickness + agility + speed and touch around the rim. The guy used to have 7% body fat at some point. I still remember them talking about it. The guy could run like a deer. I would say he was faster, quicker and more agile than Pau, even though the guy was 350 pounds of pure muscle.

    No way Bynum could help but be abused by a force like that.


  20. #9 don-ford
    you wrote:
    “Shaq was _dominant_ But who is better?


    I think Gasol get over-rated a bit since he gets the luxury of playing with Kobe. Pau is a great player but he is far from elite. When Shaq helped D-Wade win a ring in 2006, a few years after his prime was over, Shaq was still 1st team all-nba and had a PER of 25 for the season. A PER of 25, AFTER your prime is simply ridiculous. As a comparison, over this 3 year run, this latest Kobe-led dynasty, Pau has had a PER of 21-22, and has made 3rd team all-nba twice.

    Now we are not talking about an 06 Shaq but an 01 Shaq, right in the meaty part of his prime. Pau/Odom/Bynum could tie his shoes, but that’s it. They wouldn’t even be allowed on the same court as Shaq.


  21. 15.

    I completely agree. Shaq-prime was called “Most dominant” while Bynum, at best, has been called “potentially dominant”. It’s not even close. To think otherwise is rather foolish.

    Plus, Shaq-prime will generate more room for Kobe to operate in than any player on our current team.


  22. A) This team hasn’t won 3 chips yet, so this talk is somewhat dumb.

    B) No matter how much Jeff tried to qualify the competition, the fans always seem to forget this fact and just go with the domination. Today’s teams would be much more battle-tested and that does make a difference when coming down to the end – see 2010 Boston Celtics.


  23. Craig W. (22)

    The early 2000 Lakers were very battle tested, just not in the finals since so much of the leagues power resided in the Western conference. If I do recall, the Lakers/Blazers (down 13 entering the 4th in a game 7) and Lakers/Kings (Big Shot Rob, Game 7 OT victory on the road) had some nail biters.


  24. Shaq-scrub-scrub>Bynum-Gasol-Odom

    Shaq was the most dominant EVER for 3-4 year period.

    Although Gasol-Odom-Bynum would have caused a lot of trouble for the old Laker frontline, Shaq would offset anything they do with his brutal physical strength which we have never seen before or might never see in the future.

    I hate Shaq the person, but I’ve got to give props to Shaq the Most Dominant Ever (2000-2002).


  25. It’s like I said in that other thread and then was kind of misunderstood: Prime Shaq is the greatest Center of all-time, PERIOD. Obviously, his entire career has not consisted of those prime years and the drop off has been rather steep…but the fact remains…not a single center in NBA history could hang with 01 Shaq.

    Wilt? Kareem? Better overall careers, absolutely. But Prime Shaq would DESTROY both of them (although he wouldn’t be able to do much about the Skyhook).

    Prime Shaq would abuse Gasol and Bynum all day. I believe 24>>>>8, but the advantage isn’t big enough for the 09 Lakers to win. I think the 01 Lakers would take it in 6.


  26. Whoever thinks that Bynum could even dream of holding down Shaq in his prime has either never seen the three-peat Shaq or has completely forgotten about his play. He was Dominant with a capital D. Nothing could stop him. The league’s deepest and largest and most talented front courts couldn’t contain him. Bynum would average 8 minutes per game due to foul trouble. Pau would average ~20 at best, if he had to guard Shaq. Neither would have a chance. I don’t like Shaq, but give him credit where it’s due – in his prime he was UNSTOPPABLE.


  27. Don’t forget Shaq played a ridiculous amount of playoff intensity minutes during his prime. He played 44+ min and would beat forwards down the floor and seemingly never be tired to fight for position down low. You could feed him the ball every time down and you could put him in the pnr every time down but he’d still dominate each play. So the lineup and bench perspectives need to be reevaluated.

    However, his per during the playoffs with the heat when they won the championship was only 18 , while pau’s last year was 24 in the playoffs. So i think paus a better player and playoff performer than people give him credit for. Also, paus first playoff per with memphis was 29 – so i don’t buy the whole “never won a playoff series” thing hasn’t it become apparent yet that this is a team game?


  28. Its very hard to compare eras appropriately. But even if we are able to, i dont think we can draw conclusions of this sort. All we can do is compare. I like the comparisons that have been brought up. I enjoy learning the history of the game and analyzing it from a different perspective, but i dont buy any of the conclusions drawn from them. Besides,…what some of the commenters have said is true. It would be impossible to see kobe play himself. But think about this……wouldnt that be the only legitimate time that anyone could ever really say “i was my own worst enemy” and really mean it?


  29. Vintage Shaq would tear through 6 fouls on Bynum in no time. Dikembe in his prime got killed by Shaq in the 2001 finals, no way Drew would hold his ground there. And Pau would be left on an island. Oh, and many people out there say that 2001 Kobe was the best Kobe other than his MVP season, and his 2006 season where he took the scoring title.

    One interesting thought, though, would be the Kobe/Gasol pick and roll. In my opinion, that’s a 1-2 tandem the likes of which the 2000-2002 Lakers never faced. Vintage Bibby/Webber or young Parker/Vintage Duncan had nothing on current Kobe/Gasol in the pick and roll. Gasol would give Shaq fits rolling to the hoop. Add Odom’s ability to lead the break in transition to that mix and you have two players that do things within the flow of the offense that the 2000-2002 Lakers weren’t very good at stopping.

    So I would give the 2001 Lakers the nod because of how dominant Shaq and Kobe were, but the 2000 and 2002 squads had holes that I think this version’s lakers could exploit.

    Basically, if you take the last 2 lakers squads and this season’s team, and put them up in 3 consecutive finals matchups against the 2000-2002 teams, I think that Kobe/Gasol tandem would win 2 out of 3 titles over Kobe/Shaq.


  30. Really awesome matchup to think about. Somebody, please cryogenically freeze me until the day when programs can create ultra accurate video simulations of the different decades Laker squads playing against each other.


  31. Josh,
    You have seen Shaq – I very much doubt you have seen Wilt and Kareem in their prime. I doubt Shaq would have dominated either of them. I hope you realize Wilt was closer to 7’3″ than 7’1″ and a track and field athlete who didn’t just use brute strength, but took quite a beating most nights. Kareem could score on any living person with the most unstoppable shot in the game – the skyhook, yes, I have seen dunks missed more often.

    I don’t think Shaq would be embarrassed, but neither would they be.


  32. i´d pick our current lakers to win for a couple of reasons:

    a (healthy) bynum would be really good defensively against shaq. obviously, he wouldnt be able to stop him 1v1, but having a seven foot help defender in gasol (who is a great help defender by the way) would help him out a lot. the tactic would be to front shaq on the entry pass or force him to the side on which artest would be the 3rd help defender (just in case).

    today´s kobe is much better than he was 10 years ago. the skill, footwork, PATIENCE, would make a big difference that would easily offset the athletic abilities of the younger version.

    i am not even going to compare the bench players, because it is so one-sided, but let me just say that im suprised how everyone seems to think that lamar would dominate horry.

    horry was never as athletic or skilled as lamar, but he always knew how to use what he had to the maximum. his production was very reliable and he almost never had the brainfarts that lamar seems to produce every now and then.

    shaq was a monster back then, but our current squad is perfectly equipped to defend him even in his prime.

    2010 champs would win


  33. i hope this is not a jinx.


  34. I hate to nitpick a great article Skibiski, but NBA Live doesn’t exist anymore. EA’s b-ball series is now called NBA Elite.


  35. A well past his prime with no knees Arvydas Sabonis managed to bother an in his absolute prime Shaq enough to have Portland take Lakers to a 7 game series and be up going into the fourth quarter.

    With that in mind, I think it’s a flawed notion to think that Shaq is the most dominant center of all time and no one can stop him.

    Mutombo was 34 years old when he faced off against Shaq. Not old but probably on the downside of his prime.

    Shaq would have been a load for any center but he had his weaknesses too even at his 00-01 peak.


  36. The current LA squad is similar to the 2000 Blazers as people have mentioned before. However, here’s the current LA team could win over the earlier team. Portland came within a quarter in Game 7 of the 2000 WCF of knocking out LA. The main differences between LA today and those Portland teams are the quality of defenders like Kobe and Ariza/Barnes. Also, Portland didn’t have a guy like Kobe that could take over in games. They had an over-the-hill Steve Smith and Bonzi Wells. I’d say it would be a fun series, but the current team would have a good chance of winning.


  37. I think Shaq dominates the series. The only two players this squad has to throw at Shaq are Drew and Pau. While both are long and Drew is big, Shaq was pretty damn unstoppable in his prime. And you have to factor in how tiring it is to have a 350 behemoth leaning and banging on you for 30 + mins a game is.

    The best chance this squad would have, was if Drew could stay out of foul trouble long enough to play over 30 minutes which would minimize the time that Pau had to guard shaq.


  38. 36 – That PORteam had Pippen and Stacey Augmon, who are two of the best wing defenders during that era. Also, Steve Smith was in his prime (8th year) and Bonzi Wells (rookie) was athletic enough to give Kobe trouble.


  39. Didn’t Bynum have trouble guarding old shaq in the regular season games against the cavs? Prime Shaq would have bynum in foul trouble the first 2 min and there is no way Gasol could guard him.(to small) Plus don’t forget Phil doesn’t like to double, until maybe the fourth quarter.


  40. Shaq would dominate Kareem and and Wilt? That has to be one of the more preposterous statements from an offseason filled with them.


  41. First, Shaq in his prime was basically a grizzly bear playing basketball, the NBA didn’t even know how to referee him properly. There was no “should we single him and let him eat, or double him and force other’s to score”, type decisions that you see with players like Yao or Dwight Howard. Shaq demanded a double or triple team, period.

    Second Kobe was probably the best defender in the league and a guy you couldn’t keep out of the paint. Kobe definitely has a more varied skill set now, but you don’t think 2001 Kobe could force 2008-10 Kobe into a couple bad games?

    Lastly, the Lakers beat teams (Sacremento 02, Portland 00, San Antonio 01-03) that I would pick to beat EVERY team the Lakers have played during this 3-year playoff run except the 08 Boston team.

    I frankly don’t think the series would really be even close but it is an interesting discussion.


  42. 41# Physically, yes, absolutely. Come on now. I don’t see how this is even questionable unless you have your nostalgia blinders on.

    Wilt may have had a couple inches, Shaq had about 30-40 lbs on Wilt, was faster, stronger and meaner than Wilt. I love the glory days as much as the next guy, but just like Kobe>Jerry West, Shaq>Wilt and the only reason we even debate it is because of Shaq’s career trajectory and Wilt’s absurdly inflated stats. Wilt would not be a 50-20 guy in Shaq’s hey-day.

    And like I said about Kareem- on the defensive end, Kareem would get thrown around by Shaq. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also the guy that said Kareem always gets neglected in the GOAT discussion…but his defense would never have contained Shaq. Shaq would have bullied him all day.


  43. Anyone who says that the current squad could beat the Shaq/Kobe 2001 team is either:

    a) biased
    b) has a short memory
    c) too young

    This isn’t rocket science, people. The 2001 Laker squad had Shaq in 2001 form. Shaq in 2001 was BIGGER, QUICKER, FASTER, STRONGER, and more skilled than Bynum is or well ever be. Shaq would completely destroy the modern Laker frontline.

    There’s a reason why they were so dominant that year. Shaq was an automatic double team and Phil surrounded him with Kobe on the weak side and 3 perimeter threats. It was unstoppable. It’s hard for me to see how any team in history, including the great bulls teams, could ever handle the 2001 Lakers when it comes to matchups. This isn’t even close.

    People shouldn’t forget that Kobe in 2001 was absolutely incredible. His mid-range game wasn’t as good but he was a top 3 defender, better penetrator, better finisher, etc.