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Steph Curry Talks Hypothetical Matchup of 2017 Warriors vs. 2001 Shaq and Kobe Lakers

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 19, 2022

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Fresh off winning his fourth NBA championship and first NBA Finals MVP, Golden State Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry backed his team when asked to give his take on a hypothetical series against the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers.

In an interview with Complex's Zion Olojede, Curry was asked to pick who would win a seven-game series between the 2016-17 Warriors led by himself, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and the 2000-01 Lakers led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal:

"Between the '96 Bulls and the hypotheticals of a seven-game series, the 2001 Lakers and that hypothetical series, or every other hypothetical series that people say we should've lost because of an injury or because of whatever the case may be, those conversations are trivial. But at the end of the day, if you could match up in some alternate universe, us versus the 2001 Lakers, obviously we feel like we can win. I don't know who would guard Shaq, but I don't know who would guard me and Klay either. We rockin' with that. And three is better than two."

Both teams are considered two of the greatest of all time, featuring multiple current or future Hall of Famers, and they both won titles.

While the 2015-16 Warriors set the NBA record for most wins in a single regular season with 73, they shockingly fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors then signed Durant in free agency, making the 2016-17 Dubs one of the most talented squads in NBA history.

They also dominated the league, going 67-15 during the regular season and 16-1 in the playoffs, including a 4-1 series win over the Cavs in the Finals, which concluded with Durant being named NBA Finals MVP.

As for the Lakers, the 2000-01 season marked their second of three consecutive NBA championships on the backs of the superstar duo of Kobe and Shaq.

Of that three-year stretch, 2000-01 was the Lakers' worst campaign in terms of regular-season record at 56-26, but like the 2016-17 Warriors, they lost just one playoff game en route to beating the Philadelphia 76ers in the Finals and winning a championship.

Shaq was named NBA Finals MVP, and he was virtually unstoppable in the playoffs that season, averaging 30.4 points and 15.4 rebounds, while Kobe added 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.

To Curry's point, Shaq likely would have feasted on the 2016-17 Warriors since they didn't place much emphasis on protecting the paint and didn't have anyone capable of guarding him.

At the same time, that Warriors team had three of the best shooters ever in Curry, Thompson and Durant, and the Lakers could not have matched them in that regard, as Rick Fox and Derek Fisher were the only Lakers to average better than one three-pointer made per game that season at 1.4 and 1.3, respectively.

By comparison, Curry (4.1), Thompson (3.4) and Durant (1.9) all averaged more trifectas per game from the 2016-17 Warriors.

Both teams were dominant in their own ways, and it is nearly impossible to predict who would come out on top if they played since they had such different styles and played in different eras.

Regardless, they are two of the greatest teams of all time, and they deserve all of the accolades and praise they have received.

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