The paths of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will forever be linked in basketball history.
The two made sizable imprints in the game by their lonesome, but their deeds as a duo arguably represent the pinnacle of each man’s career.
They won three straight NBA championships from 2000-2002, headlining a nearly unstoppable Lakers squad alongside head coach Phil Jackson, before ultimately being split up after losing the ’04 Finals.
O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat following the letdown, and won another title in 2006 alongside Dwyane Wade. Bryant meanwhile, immediately transitioned into L.A.’s starring role, and collected two more championship rings in 2009 and 2010. Bryant would retire in 2016 following a slew of injuries, five years after O’Neal called it quits in 2011.
And while both men have cemented themselves in NBA lore, sometimes, folks look back and think which had the better overall career.
And for Marcellus Wiley, the big man takes the cake.
“In their 10-year peaks, Shaq averaged more points and rebounds per game,” Wiley said Wednesday on “Speak For Yourself.”
“In the playoffs, Shaq was as good in terms of numbers. Kobe dips down. Every team at the pro level is a collection of alphas. And you only become a beta because an alpha made you. When they played together, we know who the beta was.”
Did Kobe Bryant have a better career than Shaquille O’Neal?
Marcellus Wiley and Emmanuel Acho determine if NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal had a better career than his former teammate Kobe Bryant.
But Emmanuel Acho couldn’t reflect on Bryant’s career without recognizing its alpha stature.
“[Bryant] was so alpha, he ran Shaq’s beta butt out of L.A!” he argued.
“Kobe has more titles than Shaq. He won more titles without Shaq than Shaq won without Kobe. If Shaq had the same level of skill at Kobe’s size, he would do absolutely nothing. If Kobe had Shaq’s size, he might’ve won 20 championships! Kobe was more talented.”
Looking at their numbers, it’s easy to see why a case can be made for either.
An 18-time All-Star (four-time A.S. game MVP), Bryant ranks fourth in career points (33,643), second in 60-point games (6), third in 50-pieces (25) and recorded the second-most points in a single NBA game (81).
He has the eighth-most playoff wins all-time (135) and fourth-most playoff points (5,640), while his five titles slot him 14th all-time. Bryant also recorded 11 first-team All-NBA selections, and nine first-team All-Defensive nods.
O’Neal ranks eighth in career points (28,596), 15th in rebounds (13,099), 14th in 30-point games (313) and sixth in career double-doubles (727). He’s also at 10th in playoff wins (129), fifth in playoff points (5,250), and fourth in playoff rebounds (2,508).
O’Neal was a 15-time All-Star, three-time Finals MVP, eight-time first-team All-NBA selection, and ranks fifth all-time in PER (26.43) and 13th in win shares (181.71). Bryant is 19th with 172.7.
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