Among the major professional sports, the NBA is often the one where players from different eras are compared to each with hypothetical matchups. Many great players across the league’s history have continued to fuel these discussions, which are often split by generations on which players are the all-time cream of the crop. That conversation was sparked up once again as there has been another dream matchup between prime Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal facing off against LeBron James and Anthony Davis. O’Neal has weighed in on the conversation with what shouldn’t be too surprising of a stance.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading Lakers’ strong start
In the months heading into the 2019-20 season, there wasn’t any clarity as to how effective the pairing of James and Davis would be for the Lakers. However, those doubts were quickly erased as both players have shown a tremendous ability to play off each other on the court, guiding Los Angeles to best mark in the Western Conference.
In his 17th year, James has continued to demonstrate that he’s still at the top of his game as he’s 13th in the league with 24.9 points along with being first with a career-high 11.0 assists per contest. He is coming off earning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 23.0 points, 12.7 assists, and 11.7 rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, Davis has more than held his own as he’s a team-best 27.7 points on 50.7 percent shooting from the floor along with 9.5 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and 1.5 steals per contest. Davis has proven to be not only one of the top scorers in the league with three games beyond 40 points but also a serious candidate to earn the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The Lakers’ tremendous success behind James and Davis’ play has sparked an intriguing conversation about how they would fare against a pair of all-time greats in Bryant and O’Neal in their prime.
Shaq weighs in on all-time matchup
With the Lakers having much success behind their star duo of James and Davis, it has brought them into comparison to Lakers’ previous star pairing of Bryant and O’Neal.
It didn’t take long for this conversation to make its way to the Hall of Fame center as he voiced quite strongly that he and Bryant, in their primes, would beat the Lakers’ current duo in a two-on-two setting.
“Yes. Hell yes. Of course [we’d win],” O’Neal said. “Cause there’s only one contributing factor. Who’s gonna guard me?”
His response shouldn’t surprise anyone, as O’Neal and Bryant were among the best duos in league history that saw them lead Los Angeles to three NBA titles in four trips. During his time with the Lakers, the Hall of Famer had his best years of his career that saw him earn three NBA Finals MVP awards, won an MVP trophy, seven All-Star Game nods, and five All-NBA First Team selections.
Bryant came into his own during that span alongside O’Neal as one of the top players in the league. Bryant was a multi-time All-Star that has established him as a bonafide star on both ends of the floor behind several All-NBA selections, and a few All-Defensive team nods.
Who would win?
If this matchup were to be possible, it would be quite an entertaining contest between both sides as each are among the best talents the league has ever seen.
James and Davis would undoubtedly be able to hold their own against Bryant and O’Neal. The four-time league MVP could have the physical advantage over Bryant, and Davis could spread the floor with his shooting touch outside the paint.
However, it’s simply too hard to believe that either Davis or James would be able to handle O’Neal in the paint. There is a reason why the moniker of the most dominant ever stuck to him during his prime years with the Lakers.
It’s one of those hypothetical matchups that would have been quite entertaining to watch regardless of the result.