First To Five: Kobe, Shaq or Tim Duncan?

Mark BrownCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

DALLAS - APRIL 25:  Forward Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs during play against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 25, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I was watching Pardon the Interruption a few days ago when I saw an interesting question posed: Who will win their fifth ring first: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal or Tim Duncan?

It was a great question, considering all three guys are on championship contending teams. Any one of them could get their fifth title first.

Unfortunately, I was at the Dentist's at the time, so I didn't get to see how the guys responded. 

By examining all three players and their shots at winning the championship, I went ahead and made my pick as to who will have a ring for each finger first.

So, let's take a look at each player and his respective team:


1. Shaquille O'Neal, Cleveland Cavaliers

Shaq has teamed up with LeBron James to give the Cavs their best shot at winning a ring in the history of the franchise.

LeBron has almost won a title by himself, but he desperately needed help. He had to look no further than Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq will be the first true superstar LeBron has gotten to play with, and won't disappear as easily as Mo Williams did.

He can guard opposing big men and will help out on the boards. Players such as Williams can relax knowing Shaq will step up if they don't.

The Cavs have a lot of money to spend this offseason. That said, I still don't think they will win the championship.

Shaq is too vunerable to the Hack-a-Shaq strategy, and he may clog the lane when LeBron wants to drive the ball. His ego might get in the way too.

Even though Cleveland will probably get another good player, they still don't seem to have what it takes. Shaq is the least likely of the three, though he may still win his fifth title soon.


2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant is on top of the world. His Lakers just won the NBA title as Bryant gathered his first ever Finals MVP.

Kobe will not opt out of his contract and will likely remain a Laker until at least 2012.

The Lakers success this upcoming season all depends on if they can resign Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza.

If they can, and I think they will, then the Lakers are the leading candidates as champions in 2010.

That said, I think San Antonio will pull off some more moves this offseason (signing Rasheed Wallace?).

If they continue to add to their team and Ginobli, Parker and Duncan are healthy, then it will be a dogfight for position as top team in the west.

While I think Los Angeles will finish with a better regular season record, I think San Antonio may squeak by in a seven game series. It'll definitely be fun to watch.


3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

Duncan is my pick, as I think the Spurs will win the 2010 championship.

The addition of Richard Jefferson to the team was nothing short of genius, and if San Antonio can sign Wallace, then they will probably beat the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

I've bet too many times against this team to do it again. They constantly win when they are under the radar, as they currently are now. Most people do not think the Spurs will win the title.

If they aren't able to sign a free agent, then they may be right. However, I think the front office of the Spurs is looking to make another splash.

If the big three can finally stay healthy and if Jefferson pans out, then the Spurs will be the team to beat.

Otherwise, the Lakers will win their second consecutive title.

Although we'll have to see how the offseason plays out for each team, I think San Antonio will ultimately win the title after making more moves. The Lakers will be just behind them, and the Cavaliers will be a step behind.

Duncan's my pick: Who's yours?