Kobe Bryant and the Best Partners in Crime Shaquille O'Neal Ever Had

Rachel MarcusCorrespondent IJune 2, 2011

Kobe Bryant and the Best Partners in Crime Shaquille O'Neal Ever Had

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    MINNEAPOLIS - MAY 23:  Kobe Bryant #8 and Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on in the second half of Game two of the Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2004 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2004 at Target Cent
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    With Shaquille O'Neal's recent announcement that he is retiring, it's time to look back at the players Shaq helped and those who boosted Shaq late in his career.

    A sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, O'Neal wasn't without at least one All-Star caliber player throughout his career. And as great as Shaq was, he still got by with some help from his teammates.

    Some aided Shaq, others picked up his slack and some didn't get along with him at times (see Bryant, Kobe). But in almost all cases, success was to be found.

    Here's a list of his best teammates through his 19-year career.

Penny Hardaway

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    Oct 1993:  Center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic (left) ducks the ball after teammate guard Anfernee Hardaway slam dunks it during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Mandatory Credit: Mike Cooper  /Allsport
    Michael Cooper/Getty Images

    The first of Shaq's sidekicks, Penny Hardaway was a star player himself. This duo led the Magic to the NBA Finals and nearly won a title.

    If not for Shaq's departure to Los Angeles, these two could have gone on to great heights. Instead, they merely were a great pair that led the Magic to some great and memorable seasons.

    Shaq can thank Penny for getting his career off to a rousing start in Orlando and vice-versa.

Kobe Bryant

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    MINNEAPOLIS - MAY 29:  Kobe Bryant #8 and Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers walk upcourt in the fourth quarter of Game five of the Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2004 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2004 at Ta
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Kobe Bryant is by far Shaquille O'Neal's most well-known sidekick. They are perhaps most known for their sparring, but the two created a dynasty in L.A., leading the Lakers to three straight titles.

    Kobe has gone on to win two more without Shaq, but O'Neal definitely helped his career get started.

    The two may not be best of friends, but basketball wise, they found great success and possibly the best moments of O'Neal's career.

Dwyane Wade

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    MIAMI - APRIL 27: Dwyane Wade #3 and teammate Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Miami Heat stand together during a timeout against the Chicago Bulls in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on
    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    When Shaquille O'Neal arrived in Miami, Dwyane Wade was just a young player. O'Neal unleashed Wade's star power and Wade hasn't looked back since. 

    Both relied on each other in their NBA title run in 2006. Of course, Wade has sidekicks of his own now in LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

    But O'Neal really got Wade going on his current path of stardom and Hall-of-Fame play when the two played together.

LeBron James

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    BOSTON - MAY 07:  LeBron James #23 and Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pause during action against  the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 7, 2010 in Bos
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    It's easy to forget Shaq's one-year detour in Cleveland. At a point in his career when he was ready to be second in command, he answered to LeBron James, and James was the main man in this pairing.

    Although the ending wasn't as either had hoped, the duo still managed to have great regular-season success (but what does that matter if there's no playoff success).

    After their 2010-2011 season together, LeBron infamously left for South Beach and Shaq headed to Boston for his final season.

This Year's Celtics

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 28:  (L-R) Ray Allen #20, Rajon Rondo #9, Kevin Garnett #5, Paul Pierce #34 and Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics huddle up during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 28, 2011 in Phoenix, Ar
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    In his final season, Shaq had no sidekick to boss around. He merely was a role player. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo control the Celtics and are each other's sidekicks.

    Shaq was a good player off the bench and that's about it. Unfortunately for Boston, they lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

    It was obvious that Shaq was no longer the Big Aristotle. No more Superman, the Big Diesel or whatever other nicknames that were used to describe his basketball career.

    I guess Shaq felt like he was done. He had a great career, but after 19 years it was time to say goodbye to a Hall-of-Fame career, which was orchestrated by one of the greatest personalities and NBA talents ever.