The last time Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were on the same team was the 2004 NBA Finals.
Back then, they were the most dangerous duo in basketball. The Lakers’ one-two punch together won three consecutive NBA titles. One wasn’t good without the other, and they wouldn’t have won the games without each other.
When these two departed after the 2004 season, it wasn’t pretty. Kobe wanted more money, which didn’t leave enough to resign Shaq. Kobe got the deal he wanted, but Shaq was shipped to Miami.
In the absence of Shaq, the Lakers struggled through a couple seasons until Kobe learned to be a team player. They made it to the Finals last year, but were stopped short by the Boston Celtics. The loss of Shaq left its mark because they haven’t won a championship since he left.
Shaq on the other hand was doing fine with where he went. He was teamed with another great shooting guard in Dwyane Wade. Shaq and Wade lead their team to the NBA Finals in 2006 beating the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in the best of seven series to become the NBA champions.
The All-Star game is the first time Shaq and Kobe were on the same team together, and it was almost as if they never parted.
The pregame was loaded with hype over this game. With a little one-on-one between Shaq and Kobe, it seemed as if they put their differences behind them. Shaq called himself the “Big Jabbawockee” after performing with the dance group called the Jabbawockeez. He proved he doesn’t just have talents on the basketball court.
Kobe started the game like you would expect, shooting the ball almost every time he touched it. Even in a game full of fun and not much seriousness, Kobe played as if it was a playoff game, scoring 27 points and dishing some big assists, including to ex-teammate Shaq.
Granted, no one really tried their hardest on defense, but Kobe scored the most points in the game.
Yao Ming started for the West at the center spot, but you would never have guessed that with the way Shaq played. Right off the bat he was making key passes to open players, dunking left and right, and had the biggest play of the night.
He passed the ball between the legs of Dwight “Superman” Howard to Chris Paul; Chris Paul passes it back to Shaq while moving to the basket, and slams it. Shaq ended the game with 17 points.
Kobe may have been the leading scorer, but Shaq was the most entertaining.
Together both Shaquille and Kobe won co-MVP honors in the Western Conference's dominance over the East.