How many times have you heard: “Kobe hasn’t won a championship without, Shaq”? How many times have you said it?
Quite frankly, I think that claim is ridiculously unfair. Yes, Kobe Bryant has not won one without Shaquille O’ Neal, but this same logic can be used with a lot of NBA Champions.
How many titles did Larry Bird win without Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish?
How many did Magic Johnson win without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
How many did Michael Jordan win without Scottie Pippen?
My point is that a team needs at least two All-Star caliber players to win an NBA Championship.
Yes, Shaq won one without Kobe Bryant, but he had Dwyane Wade. Actually, Wade had Shaq, but that’s neither here nor there.
Tim Duncan didn’t win four championships by himself. He had David Robinson, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Hakeem Olajuwon needed Clyde Drexler.
And teams that made it to the finals with one All-Star player crumbled upon arrival to the NBA Finals.
Most recently, look at LeBron James’ first trip to the finals. He, through the grace of God or someone similar, led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals and was destroyed by a trio of All-Star-level players.
Remember the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers? Allen Iverson led the Sixers to the finals (he had Dikembe Mutombo, I know, but, come on), and after Game One...It wasn’t pretty.
Basketball is and will always be a TEAM sport as the 2004 Detroit Pistons so kindly displayed, and one All-Star player does not a team make. Along with having a “star,” there must be a second viable offensive option.
While it may not be true every year, for most NBA Championship teams, the second-leading scorer on the team averages at LEAST 15.0 PPG.
Last year’s Boston Celtics’ second an third leading scorers were above the line, the 2007 San Antonio Spurs had second and third were as well (to the Cavaliers none), 2006 Miami Heat had one (Shaq), you get the point.
So before the excuse—which I’ve already heard a million times over—that "Kobe now has Pau Gasol" leaves your lips in the next debate, realize that Gasol is providing the same support the Pippen did for Jordan, that Ginobli and Parker did for Duncan, and Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace (not on the score sheet, but I couldn’t break up the starting five), and Richard Hamilton did for Chauncy Billups.
Of course Kobe Bryant needs help. He’s human.