The passionate debate over a matchup that could have never happened crossed into another era.
The argument no longer just involves how the ‘Showtime’ Lakers would fare against the current Golden State Warriors. It also involves how the Lakers teams featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in their prime would fare. O’Neal delivered some honest commentary as powerful as his ferocious dunks.
“We’d kill them,” O’Neal said on Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “Just like you can’t hand-check Steph Curry, you can’t hand-check Kobe either.”
O’Neal then offered a challenge to the Warriors’ starting center.
[Andrew] Bogut would have been Australian BBQ chicken,” O’Neal boasted.
Former Lakers legend Magic Johnson sounded just as prideful in an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. Johnson argued the current Warriors would have “bad matchups” against the Showtime teams, with concerns ranging from his playmaking, James Worthy’s versatility and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s lethal skyhook. But what about the Warriors’ 3-point shooting?
“The Showtime team had guys on that team who could defend on the perimeter,” Abdul-Jabbar argued Wednesday on the “Dan Patrick Show.”
But even if the current-day Warriors set an NBA record for most-regular season wins (73), O’Neal believed that hardly compared to the Lakers’ 2001 NBA championship team that went 15-1 in the postseason.
O’Neal then broke down each individual matchup to explain why.
“Steph Curry probably would have gotten his shot on [Derek Fisher]. But [Brian Shaw] could have given him a run for his money,” O’Neal said. “With Klay Thompson, I have to give that to Kobe. Me and Bogut, I have to give that to me. At four, it depends who I’m playing with. Am I playing with [Robert Horry] or am I playing with Horace [Grant]? Big-Shot Bob is not going to to be in the post with Draymond [Green] to try to play defense. But if Draymond tries to double, I’m going to kick it to Big Shot Bob or wait for the shot.”
And if Curry and Thompson go on a scoring streak that seemingly becomes impossible to stop?
“We would’ve killed them. I definitely would’ve put Klay and Steph on the ground when they come to the lane with the finger roll, definitely,” O’Neal said. “I don’t know if they can take that pain two or three times.”
No one will ever know since those games will never happen. But that won’t stop former players from day dreaming about it.
“This is why they have sports bars,” Abdul-Jabbar said, chuckling. “You order some wings and a brew. Then you start arguing.”