Shaquille O’Neal was a guest on “Fallon Tonight” Monday and offered a convincing opinion about how he and former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant would stack up against current Lakers duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Jimmy Fallon asked Shaq if the big man thought he and Kobe could beat LeBron and AD. Shaq answered without hesitation and stated his answer as if it were fact.
— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) January 7, 2020
He’s absolutely right: who would guard him? LeBron or Davis couldn’t stop him.
During his prime, it took a rotation of three big men who could offer 18 combined fouls to send Shaq to the free throw line as the only way to slow down the center. The only time I would go against Shaq would be if you’re matching a young version of him up against Hakeem, because Olajuwon won that.
Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt:
Luka Doncic probably expected an enthusiastic crowd for his team’s road game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, but what the Dallas Mavericks star did not anticipate was someone speaking to him in his native language from a courtside seat.
That someone was Kobe Bryant.
Bryant had a courtside seat at the Staples Center for the game, and Doncic was inbounding the ball right in front of him at one point. Doncic says Kobe caught his ear when he began speaking to him in Slovenian.
Luka said Kobe was speaking to him in Slovenian from the sidelines
"He was talking Slovenian. So I was like, 'who's talking my language?' I saw Kobe and was really surprised."
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 30, 2019
Doncic and Kobe then chatted after the game and shared a laugh over the unexpected exchange.
Post-game hug between Mavericks’ Luka Doncic & Lakers legend Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/ENTSpVYUqw
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 30, 2019
Kobe grew up in Europe and is actually fluent in Italian and Spanish in addition to English. He has picked up on other languages over the years because of the many international teammates he had with the Lakers, and he learned some Slovenian from Sasha Vujacic. Bryant also speaks some Serbian.
Bryant is one of the all-time great trash talkers in NBA history, so it makes sense that he has learned to talk smack in multiple languages. Still, that had to have been a pretty unique surprise for Doncic.
Kobe Bryant will always be one of the most beloved players in Los Angeles Lakers franchise history, and Frank Vogel got a first-hand look at that on Sunday night. The coach said he was moved by the experience.
Bryant sat courtside for the Lakers’ 122-101 win over the Atlanta Hawks, and you can probably guess what type of reception he got when he was shown on the Staples Center video board.
Kobe gets the standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd! pic.twitter.com/35lnsT39Ax
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 18, 2019
That’s the reaction you would expect for a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP and 18-time All-Star. Vogel was asked about it after the game, and he said it gave him chills.
“I got chills when the crowd started going nuts at his presence. He deserves it.” – Vogel said of Kobe
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 18, 2019
Several Lakers players were seen going up to Bryant during the game to exchange pleasantries with him, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Davis told reporters that Kobe sitting there can’t help but make him wonder if he will be able to accomplish the same thing with the Lakers that Bryant did.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 18, 2019
Winning five titles is a long shot for anyone, but the Lakers are off to an 11-2 start and look like they could be the best team in the Western Conference. In fact, they have looked so impressive that Kobe recently said they would make his decision about whether or not to come out of retirement an easy one.
If LeBron and Davis can bring LA another title, they’ll be getting the same reception as Kobe when they return to the Staples Center after their playing careers end.
There are a number of reasons why Kobe Bryant has not given any thought to making an NBA comeback since he retired in 2016, and the future Hall of Famer insists he is not envious that the Los Angeles Lakers appear poised to make a title run without him. In fact, he considers the talent on the current roster to be a deterrent.
In an appearance on the “Ledlow & Parker” podcast with Kristen Ledlow and Candace Parker this week, Kobe was asked if he would consider coming out of retirement if there were a 100 percent guarantee he would win his sixth NBA championship. He responded with an emphatic “no,” saying that he likes to win his rings “the hard way.”
Would @kobebryant return to the NBA if he were guaranteed a ring?
KOBE: No. No. No. No. I like my rings the hard way. I like to fight through them. I don’t like to jump into the easy route.”
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 30, 2019
“I like fighting through them and earning them that way,” Bryant said. “I don’t like to, you know, jump into the easy route, so I wouldn’t take it.”
Kobe then said he feels picking either team in LA would be the “easy route” after the offseasons both the Lakers and Clippers had. Of course, critics will point to the fact that Kobe won three of his championships with Shaquille O’Neal, and some might consider that an easier route than the one other champions have had to take.
Either way, it’s no surprise would not want to join a superteam that has already been established. We heard similar remarks from Shaq not that long ago, and both players take pride in the fact that their championships were something they helped build rather than latched onto. LeBron probably doesn’t care what people say as long as he wins another ring.
- Kobe Bryant
Mark Cuban has operated differently than most NBA owners over the previous 19 seasons, frequently trading away draft picks for high-level players, signing top free agents to max deals and almost always swinging for the fences. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that never stops Cuban from trying.
And as it turns out, nothing is off limits for Cuban, who told “Fair Game with Kristine Leahy” on Monday that he very nearly pulled off a trade that would have landed both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in Dallas.
— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) October 22, 2019
Cuban explained that the deal, which he believed to be done at the time, included Jason Terry, Josh Howard and multiple picks. However, before pulling the trigger, Lakers owner Jerry Buss had one final conversation with Kobe, who then decided he wanted to remain in Los Angeles.
The same could not be said for Shaq. Or so says Cuban.
“Come and get me,” Cuban recalled Shaq telling him.
Shaq never ended up in Dallas however, instead moving onto the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics after his nine seasons in Los Angeles. Bryant, of course, retired where he began and is widely respected for it.
Still, could you imagine what Kobe, Shaq and Dirk Nowitzki could have done for the Mavericks? That would have been the most-dominating big-3 in NBA history.
Kobe Bryant is doing his best to impart the “Mamba Mentality” to today’s NBA players.
Bryant held an invite-only training camp at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. last month, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein. Stein says the list of attendees included Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, De’Aaron Fox, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, John Collins, Buddy Hield, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson.
Attendees did strength training, on-court training and video work with Kobe, noted Lakers skills coach Phil Handy and more. Other names I've heard as participants: Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, John Collins, Buddy Hield, Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jordan Clarkson
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 26, 2019
Stein says the group did strength training, on-court training, and video work with Kobe.
Kobe helping Kawhi and Paul George makes it seem like Bryant is working to help the LA Clippers take down his former team, the Lakers. But Caldwell-Pope is a member of the Lakers, and maybe there were other Lakers; we don’t know the entire list of participants.
Bryant has gotten active in a coaching role since retiring. Not only is he helping these NBA players, but he’s also coached his daughter’s youth teams.
Let’s just hope whatever advice he provided these players produces better results than what happened with another player Kobe trained last year.
- Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard infamously butted heads during their lone season together with the Los Angeles Lakers, but Kobe believes Howard will be in a better position to succeed in LA seven years later. Howard agrees.
In a recent appearance on “The Talk” on CBS, Bryant said he feels Howard is ready to “do whatever is necessary to help this team” in his second stint with the Lakers, and Kobe is confident Howard will accomplish that.
— LakeShowWorld (@LakeShowWorld) September 10, 2019
Howard was asked about Bryant’s remarks in an interview with Shams Charania of Stadium, and he said he appreciates Kobe saying that and agrees with the five-time NBA champion.
— Stadium (@Stadium) September 26, 2019
“I haven’t spoken to him. I appreciate him saying that,” Howard said. “He didn’t have to. He’s right.”
It’s interesting that Howard feels another Lakers legend’s opinion of him is “irrelevant” but appreciates what Kobe said, though it’s not surprising. Howard has historically not responded well to negative criticism, which is something he claims he has tried to work on in recent years.
There are a number of reasons Bryant and Howard clashed, but Kobe didn’t really hide how he felt about Dwight during that season. It’s probably easier for Kobe to compliment Howard when he doesn’t have to share a locker room with him.