Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are considered by many to be the greatest duo in NBA history. The two legendary players shared the court with each other for 8 seasons and showed the NBA why they were such a fearsome duo, often dominating their opposition with incredible scoring.
The duo won 3 consecutive NBA championships together on the Lakers and became the last team to win 3 consecutive NBA championships. During that time, many considered Shaquille O’Neal the best player in the world, and Kobe was on the verge of greatness, becoming a regular All-Star and playing at a very high level.
But was there a major gap between Kobe and Shaq during their stint together? Many believe that Kobe Bryant’s peak came during his second championship stint between 2008 to 2010. But the numbers suggest that Kobe was equally important to the Lakers during this time as Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe Bryant Vs. Shaquille O'Neal: Year By Year Comparison
Kobe Bryant: 7.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 41.7% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 26.2 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.9 BPG, 55.7% FG
Kobe Bryant: 15.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 42.8% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 28.3 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.4 BPG, 58.4% FG
Kobe Bryant: 19.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 46.5% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 26.3 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.7 BPG, 57.6% FG
Kobe Bryant: 22.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, 46.8% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 29.7 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 3.0 BPG, 57.4% FG
Kobe Bryant: 28.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 46.4% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 28.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.8 BPG, 57.2% FG
Kobe Bryant: 25.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 46.9% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 27.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 57.9% FG
Kobe Bryant: 30.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 45.1% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 27.5 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.4 BPG, 57.4% FG
Kobe Bryant: 24.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 43.8% FG
Shaquille O’Neal: 21.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 58.4% FG
While Kobe did take his time developing in the initial seasons, which is only natural given he entered the league without any collegiate experience, he matured within his first 2 seasons, becoming an All-Star in 1998.
And by 2000, Bryant showed that he was a more than reliable scoring option, averaging 20+ points per game for each season since the start of the 1999-00 season. In fact, Kobe Bryant averaged 30 points in 2002-03, and also made the All-Defensive 1st team, something he did twice more in his career, and he was the last player to do.
As for Shaquille O’Neal, he stayed fairly consistent during his time in LA, but his scoring numbers did fall from his peak in 2000 as Kobe Bryant became more and more reliable as a scorer. In their early years together, Shaq did the heavy lifting, but Kobe was just as important for them during their championship seasons.
Both Kobe and Shaq saw a significant dip during their 2003-04 campaign, as their tension with each other was becoming a significant issue for them. But they still made the NBA Finals but lost to the Detroit Pistons in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
The duo then went their separate ways, finding championship success with different teammates. They were able to reconcile at the end of their careers. Their success was incredible, bringing Staples Center a lot of joy. In fact, Shaq recently said that the Staples Center was the house that he and Kobe built. But regardless of the end, their legacy as the greatest duo in NBA history is intact.