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Video: Stephen A. Smith Says He'd Take Prime Kobe Bryant over Shaquille O'Neal

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2019

FILE - In this May 4, 2002, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, left, and Shaquille O'Neal celebrate after winning Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs, in Los Angeles. Bryant downplayed talk of a reignited feud with Shaquille O'Neal, saying there is
MARK J. TERRILL/Associated Press

With Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant making headlines by saying he "would've had 12 f--king rings" had former teammate Shaquille O'Neal shared his work ethic, it has stirred up the age-old debate:

Prime Shaq or Prime Kobe?

For ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, the Black Mamba gets the nod.

Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith

I'd rather have prime @KobeBryant than prime @Shaq. It’s really simple when you think about it: https://t.co/08ACSEDLms

Smith noted that Bryant's ability to control the game as a guard makes him more valuable, as he could play both on the perimeter or attack the basket. Meanwhile, the 7'1", 325-pound O'Neal was limited to playing down low. Not only that, but the ability to Hack-a-Shaq (O'Neal was a career 52.7 percent shooter from the line) works against the Diesel.

Ultimately, though, Smith made it clear that he would take an elite guard over an elite big man "99 percent of the time."

Of course, it's hard to go wrong with either in this instance. Bryant (five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, one NBA MVP and 18 All-Star selections) and O'Neal (four NBA championships, three NBA Finals MVPs, one NBA MVP and 15 All-Star selections) are two of the greatest basketball players of all time.