Los Angeles Lakers: 6 reasons why Kobe Bryant was wrong about winning 12 rings

(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers
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Dr. Jerry Buss had a choice on who was going to get the max deal. His choice was Kobe Bryant, not Shaq.

The most devastating era of the turn of the century does not belong to the Golden State Warriors. It belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, led by the player many believe is the strongest force in NBA history, Shaquille O’Neal.

That era ended with a trade demand from the big man. On July 14, 2004, the Los Angeles Lakers obliged him and traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat.

In O’Neal’s eight seasons wearing the purple and gold, he was named an All-Star seven times while reaching the NBA Finals four times, winning three championships, three Finals MVPs, and one regular-season MVP.

With a resume like that, it was no wonder why O’Neal wanted more money than the Lakers.

He destroyed Rik Smits and Austin Croshere (Remember him?) to lead the Lakers to their first title since the Magic Johnson, James Worthy led Showtime Lakers in 1987-88.

The next year against the Sixers after Allen Iverson woke the Lakers up after shocking them in Game 1, O’Neal proceeded to place Dikembe Mutombo under the rim on numerous occasions and dunk on him.

Finally, Mutumbo came back for a rematch with the New Jersey Nets. It didn’t matter because O’Neal was even more dominant even with Kenyon Martin on the backline to provide help.

But, by the time the Pistons ended the championship run, it was plain that Kobe and Shaq could no longer co-exist. Dr. Buss, being the NBA visionary that he was knew that if he locked up O’Neal, Kobe Bryant would possibly leave. Dr. Buss wasn’t having it.

He chose the younger, hard-working guard over the often out of shape aging big man who believed in the personal policy of “getting hurt and recovering on company time”. 

The Lakers collected pieces that directly and indirectly helped the franchise’s future in the deal as they acquired Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a future first-round pick, who turned into Jordan Farmar. Caron Butler was traded later for Kwame Brown, who was flipped for Pau Gasol.

The Lakers sent Shaq where he wanted to go in Miami, where he teamed up with a young Dwyane Wade to collect his last championship in 2006.