Shaquille O’Neal would take Kobe Bryant in his prime over LeBron James

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former NBA legend and four-time champion Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Monday, and the two men spoke on a multitude of topics, including the controversial remarks of former Detroit Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer, who stated on the show last week that he’d take LeBron James in his prime over Michael Jordan.

Patrick posed the same question to O’Neal, who said he’d take Jordan in his hay-day over King James. Patrick then asked Shaq about who’d he rather have in their prime: Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, and O’Neal sided with the guy that he collected the most hardware with.

I played with both of them. You know, Kobe has that killer instinct. And I’d probably have to go with Kobe. That’s not a knock against LeBron. It’s just that I know Kobe and I played with him longer. I’ve seen what he can do.

When asked if James possesses a killer instinct, O’Neal stated yes.

Yes he does. But a lot of people try to compare him to Mike, when he’s more like Magic. But, you know, when he needs to take over a game, he will. But he’s really, really smart. He’s very intelligent. He lets the game come to him. And he relies on others. Magic relied on others and it worked out well for him. LeBron has relied on others these past five years, it’s working out for him. Hopefully it works out for him in the Finals.

The Kobe vs. LeBron debate has always been a spirited one, and that’s not going to change for quite some time. It’s not surprising that O’Neal chose Bryant over James, because as he stated, he and Kobe played together longer and their battles together were of the championship variety. Obviously O’Neal’s championship days are going to resonate with him more than his brief stint in Cleveland, but a fair argument can be made for both men as the superior player. 

If you were to ask 100 people to weigh in on the Bryant and James debate, you’d get an assortment of answers, some fueled by bias and others powered by objectivity. For many it comes down to preference, and what you value in your basketball player. Would you rather have Bryant’s scoring dexterity and his highly celebrated drive and competitive nature, or would James’ cerebral and forceful basketball ways be too appealing to pass up? 

You can check out O’Neal’s entire interview with Patrick below, which includes talk on his new podcast, his relationship with Bryant during their days together as Lakers, and some thoughts on the upcoming NBA Finals. 

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