An Examination Of Shaq's Claim

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IOctober 9, 2009

Shaquille O'Neal is in the headlines again. This time at least he made a point that is debateable. His statement is that the Cleveland Cavaliers are "Probably the Best Team I've ever had."

Which, those comments lead you to wonder what he feels about the four championship teams he has played on. The three in Los Angeles and the one in Miami. So, it's time to look at those teams.

The first team you'll run into is the 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers in which under Phil Jackson the team went 67-15. The roster for the regular season looked like this:

  1. Shaquille O'Neal
  2. Kobe Bryant
  3. Glen Rice
  4. Ron Harper
  5. Rick Fox
  6. Derek Fisher
  7. Tyronn Lue
  8. Robert Horry
  9. A.C. Green
  10. Brian Shaw
  11. Devean George
  12. John Celestand
  13. Travis Knight
  14. John Salley
  15. Sam Jacobson

Playoff Roster was this:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Bryant
  3. Rice
  4. Harper
  5. Horry
  6. Shaw
  7. Fox
  8. Fisher
  9. Green
  10. George
  11. Knight
  12. Sally

O'Neal was the leading scorer in both regular season and playoffs. Kobe Bryant was the second leading scorer on the team. The only other Laker in double figures in scoring was Rice.

The rest of the players on the team were role players. Each had their own function to make the team work.

For the Lakers next team which was the 2000-2001 season their roster consisted of:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Bryant
  3. Fox
  4. Horace Grant
  5. Isaiah Rider
  6. Shaw
  7. Horry
  8. Harper
  9. Mike Penberthy
  10. Fisher
  11. George
  12. Mark Madsen
  13. Lue
  14. Greg Foster
  15. Stanislav Medvedenko

Playoff roster included:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Bryant
  3. Fisher
  4. Fox
  5. Grant
  6. Horry
  7. Shaw
  8. Lue
  9. George
  10. Harper
  11. Madsen
  12. Foster

Again Shaq was the man leading the way in scoring and Bryant again was number two, but were relatively close scoring wise. Fisher was the only other Laker in double figures in scoring in the regular season.

In the playoffs again Shaq lead the way in scoring and Bryant came in second. This time the Lakers added two players in double figures in scoring with Fisher and Fox.

O'Neal third championship team in Los Angeles was in 2001-2002 and the roster consisted of these players:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Bryant
  3. Fisher
  4. Fox
  5. George
  6. Horry
  7. Lindsey Hunter
  8. Samaki Walker
  9. Medvedenko
  10. Mitch Richmond
  11. Shaw
  12. Madsen
  13. Jelani McCoy
  14. Joe Crispin
  15. Penberthy

Playoff wise the roster looked like this:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Bryant
  3. Fisher
  4. Fox
  5. Horry
  6. George
  7. Walker
  8. Shaw
  9. Hunter
  10. Medvedenko
  11. Richmond
  12. Madsen

Shaq again lead the Lakers in scoring and rebounding. Bryant again was the second option. Fisher again added in double figures.

Playoff wise Shaq again lead the team in scoring and rebounding. Bryant contributed as the second option. Fisher again was in double figures. Although, Fox and Horry were also close to hitting the double figure mark.

For the Lakers the 1999-2000 team had the most talent. It was also the team that won the most games and the two other teams weren't close to 67 in fact the closest team was the '01-0'2 team that had 58 wins.

In Miami the only team that won a championship was the 2005-2006 team that won 52 games. Here's their roster:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Dwayne Wade
  3. Antoine Walker
  4. Udonis Haslem
  5. Jason Williams
  6. Gary Payton
  7. Alonzo Mourning
  8. James Posey
  9. Jason Kapono
  10. Wayne Simien
  11. Derek Anderson
  12. Shandon Anderson
  13. Michael Doleac
  14. Gerald Fitch
  15. Dorell Wright
  16. Earl Barron
  17. Matt Walsh

Playoff wise the roster was:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Wade
  3. Walker
  4. Williams
  5. Haslem
  6. Posey
  7. Payton
  8. Mourning
  9. Anderson
  10. Doleac
  11. Anderson
  12. Kapono
  13. Simien

Shaq was no longer the number one option for the Heat. That was Wade who lead the team in scoring both in the playoffs and in the regular season. Shaq became the second option for the Heat.

The only other players in the regular season to average double figures was Williams and Walker. Playoffs Walker contributed in double figures with Williams just missing out on double figures.

Now it's time to look a the Cavaliers 2009-2010 roster:

  1. O'Neal
  2. Lebron James
  3. Mo Williams
  4. Daniel Gibson
  5. Delonte West
  6. Leon Powe
  7. Zydrunas Ilgauskus
  8. Danny Green
  9. Andre Barrett
  10. Darnell Jackson
  11. Anderson Varejao
  12. Jamario Moon
  13. Rob Kurz
  14. Anthony Parker
  15. Cobe Karl
  16. JJ Hickson
  17. Luke Nevill
  18. Daryl Watkins
  19. Jawad Williams
  20. Delonte West

Right now you can only see whats on paper in terms of the roster since the season has started. Is this Cavaliers team talented? Absolutely. Could you consider them better than that '99-'00 team? Yes.

For the 2008-2009 season the Cavaliers won 66 games it's not really much of a stretch for the Cavs to at least the 67 wins that Laker team had, but since the season hasn't started there's really no way to compare the teams except for the rosters.

So, really what it comes down to though is that the Heat team doesn't qualify too little wins in the regular season, the '00-01' and '01-'02 teams won too little as well.

I'm also going to throw in the argument that the 1994-1995 Orlando Magic team were better than the Heat and the '01-02' Lakers, but not good enough to compete with the Cavs team or the Lakers '99-00' team.

So, it's time to really compare the rosters.

There's Bryant vs James: Edge Cavs

Rice vs West: Edge Lakers

Harper vs Williams: Edge Cavs

Fox vs Ilgauskus: Edge Cavs

Fisher vs Moon: Edge Lakers

Lue vs Gibson: Edge Cavs

Horry vs Varejao: Edge Cavs

Green vs Powe: Edge Cavs

Shaw vs Hickson: Edge Cavs

Then there's the rest of each roster that has for the Lakers George, Knight, Sally, Celestand, and Jacobson.

For the Cavs it would be Karl, Kurz, Nevill, Watkins, and Williams. There's really no edge for either team with these players who are just occupying the bench and only see action in garbage time.

As it is shown the Cavs have an edge on all the key players except for one and that was Fisher. It just shows that the Cavaliers have learned from last year that they also need reliable bench play and they've got that now.

So, is it fair for Shaq to say that this is probably the best team he's been apart of? Absolutely.  



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