Whether it was goofing around in warm-ups, acknowledging each other in interviews, or hoisting the MVP trophy, All-Star Game co-MVP’s Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal showed NBA fans a different side to their relationship this weekend.
O’Neal and Bryant haven’t been teammates since they last shared the floor in a losing effort to Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals. A little less than five years later, in Phoenix, Arizona, the two would reunite to take home MVP honors.
Kobe’s 27 points and all around play earned him his 3rd All-Star MVP trophy and a win for the Western Conference all-stars. O’Neal put on a show for the home fans by dancing with the Jabbawockeez prior to the game – he had my vote for MVP before the ball was even tipped. His 17 points in 11 minutes and ability to do the robot at 7’2 made him an easy choice for NBA voters.
O’Neal and Bryant reminded Los Angeles Lakers’ fans of the glory days – it’s hard not to be nostalgic after three straight years of NBA titles. It makes one wonder of the possibilities if the two superstars would have gotten their act together years ago.
For those of you who remember, Kobe and Shaq dominated the start of the decade as teammates, who’s to say they couldn’t join together to add a couple rings to the thumb and pinky as well.
Shaq mentioned several times in postgame press conferences that the media orchestrated the feud between him and Kobe. Regardless, it’s evident that Kobe has matured, and Shaq has recognized his “little brother’s” talents.
With the trade deadline at the end of the week, and Phoenix replacing head coach Terry Porter with Alvin Gentry, the NBA has been buzzing with trade rumors. The Suns have given implications that they might be trading one of their big-time superstars. The “big cactus” could be leaving Phoenix for a new destination, Los Angeles perhaps?
The question is, whether or not reuniting the two stars would be a positive thing for the Lakers? At the halfway point of the season the Lakers have the best record in the NBA at 42-10. Kobe is playing the best basketball of his career, and his teammates have risen to the challenge to help make them the team to be feared in the NBA.
Whether the Lakers need Shaq or not, it’s hard to deny the thought of the two stars running the pick-and-roll again. Their chemistry on the court on All-Star Sunday gave Lakers’ fans goose bumps.
Andrew Bynum’s knee injury is a key factor for the Lakers to consider – missing a big man in the paint proved costly in last year’s finals loss to the Boston Celtics. Maybe Shaq could fill the void in the middle to help the Lakers make a post-season run.
Who would have thought that Christmas Day 2005 when the two stars collided as bitter enemies, that it would be possible for them to team-up again as friends. I never thought I would see the day where Kobe and Shaq shared stories of the “good times.”
The past few years of drama between two of the game’s most prominent players has felt almost like a reality TV show. It’ll be interesting to see if characters Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill end up happily ever after, as teammates.