Kobe and Shaq as they were for the majority of their championship run: equals.
"He couldn't do it without Shaq."
"He couldn't do it without Pau."
One of the multitude of tactics used by those who would diminish all that Kobe Bryant has accomplished is to utter the abhorred "He couldn't do it without (Insert player here)." And truthfully, it makes me sick.
Shaquille O'Neal was certainly the catalyst for the 1999-2000 Lakers teams. He averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds and three blocks per game, and won the MVP award, while Kobe Bryant averaged 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.
While Kobe was no slouch in his first year under Phil Jackson, it's clear that Shaq was the 'A' to Kobe's 'B.'
Where the fallacy begins is the 2000-2001 NBA Season. Shaq's averages were still amazing, with 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
Kobe, however, averaged 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and five assists per game.
Kobe, after his first championship, stepped out of Shaq's shadow, with the Lakers becoming player 1A and 1B rather than player 1 and 2.
The trend continued for the Lakers third championship in a row. Shaq's averages were 27.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and two blocks per game. Kobe clocked in at 25.2 points, 5.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Kobe also made the all-defensive first team once and the second team twice. Shaq made the all-defensive second team once.
Clearly, Kobe was just as big a factor as Shaq in two of the three championships the two won together.
Now that that myth has been busted, let's move on to the hypocrisy of "he couldn't do it without Pau."
...You're kidding me, right?
First of all, it would be all too easy to say "Pau couldn't do it without Kobe." But we won't take that route.
Rather, Kobe won both of those titles as the undisputed leader of the Lakers.
And people still give all the credit to Pau Gasol.
You CANNOT claim that Shaq won the first three titles for Kobe since he was the "first option" and then turn and say the same thing about Pau, even though Kobe CLEARLY was the first option.
But to claim that Kobe was just a role player during the first Lakers three-peat is simply not true. It's even further off-base to claim that Pau Gasol was more instrumental to the Lakers last two titles than Kobe, despite his obvious importance to the Lakers.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully, this will be the first of many "mythbusting" articles.