A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Kobe Still Doesn’t Get It
But probably one story many hoop fans were talking about as they left the sunny southwest city was the “reunion” of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal even if it was was for one game as All-star teammates.
It was nice to see Kobe passing the ball to Shaq, Shaq setting screens for Kobe and the both of them working together like the good ole’ days of Laker land when they won three NBA Championships together.
Both played well in the process with Shaq scoring 17 points and 5 rebounds in eleven minutes of play and Kobe scoring 27 points and four assist. Their performances earned then co-MVP honors in the game.
I think the NBA could have given it to one or the other, but felt compelled to let them share the honor for “sentimental reasons” and especially since this could be the last time we see Shaq on the floor as an NBA All-star.
It turned out to be a nice story and fitting way for the two future Hall of Famers to put their differences aside and play together as teammates once last time.
The story of this former dynamic duo doesn’t end there however.
After the game, Kobe and Shaq addressed the media and one of the reporters ask them if they ever thought of being teammates again. The response for both couldn’t have been more different.
Especially in regards to their answers and their body language.
Kobe flat out said NO, in fact he didn’t even allow the reporter to finish his sentence when asking the question. He was adamant about it and went on to say “it was nice but we are not going to go back to the hotel and watch Steel Magnolias.”
“We are not going to have a nostalgia moment”.
You saw it in Kobe’s face, demeanor and body language, He was a little tired of that particular question and wanted to leave no room for doubt about what his answer was and how he felt about it.
Shaq on the other hand looked worn out, tired, drained and looked like a warrior coming off the battle field heading home after the war. You got the sense that Shaq was relieved, content and knows the days of playing in the NBA are coming to an end.
He can see the word “retirement” on the marquee at the end of the road of his career. With all that said, he said “it was nice to get passes from Kobe” and “I miss the good ol’ days”.
But reluctantly, he managed to say there is no chance for them to play on the same team ever again. Once again this was an opportunity for Kobe to stand up and do the right team for his team and his legacy by endorsing a move to bring Shaq back to the Lakers to make a final push to get back to the NBA Finals.
But it’s obvious Kobe still hasn’t put the feud between the two of them in the past, he merely pushed it aside because he had no power in keeping Shaq off the Western Conference All-star squad.
Kobe still has anger and animosity towards Shaq because of the comments he’s made over the years and undoubtedly blames Shaq for his villain image with some of the fans and media of the game.
Consider the following reasons why re-acquiring Shaq would have been beneficial for Kobe and the Lakers:
1. Andrew Bynum is injured once again so Shaq can fill the void inside especially offensively.
2. One of the reasons the Lakers lost in the finals last year to the Celtics is because they didn’t have a post player that would demand a double team and who can get offensive rebounds.
3. Shaq is having one of his better seasons in years averaging nearly 19 points and nine rebounds this season.
4. Shaq doesn’t demand as many touches as he did when he played with Kobe in the past so Kobe will still get his shots.
5. Shaq as this point in his career has no problem playing the role of “Robin” instead of the role of “Batman” like he was considered when he played with Kobe in past seasons.
6. Shaq understands this is Kobe’s team now.
Now in fairness to Kobe, Dr. Jerry Buss, the owner of the Lakers would have had to sign off on the deal and buy into to the idea of having Shaq back and that’s a tough pill for him to swallow.
Buss and Shaq have had a war of words in the media over the years too but the words “bring him back” from Kobe would go a long way considering he is the franchise player for the Lakers.
Another issue would have been what the Lakers are willing to give up in order to get Shaq. It’s unlikely the Lakers would mortgage the house to get the 4-time NBA champion but once again, if Kobe says yes, it would probably get done.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Andrew Bynum and IF HE CAN STAY HEALTHY, could be a solid player for a decade for the Lakers but imagine the Lakers with Shaq and Pau Gasol on the box down low with Kobe and Derrick Fisher standing outside on the wings ready to knock down the perimeter shot.
Most teams have a “big three” like the Celtics, Spurs, Magic and Cavaliers but the Lakers could have a “big four” if Kobe truly put his personal feelings aside and “it’s all about me” mentality and ask the Lakers to bring Shaq back.
Kobe wants to be “the big man on campus” rather than be apart of something special at least for one more year or one last time. He would rather never win another NBA title without Shaq then win one with Shaq.
It’s his prerogative, but it still shows after all he’s gone through negatively off the court, he’s still an immature person which will hurt his chances of winning and his legacy on the court.
Does acquiring Shaq guarantee the Lakers will get to the finals again and this time win the NBA Championship? No, but their chances become great with him.