If you were on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook on Monday, you most likely saw the back and forth cheap shots between All-Time NBA greats, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen. Shaq posted a picture of himself, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, stacked against a legendary Bulls team of, Derrick Rose, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Horace Grant. Shaq captioned the picture, “We would beat em by fifty “what you think.” Let me know and don’t hold back.” So, what’s the most 2015 thing that could happen after that? Yup, you guessed it, come back with heat and @ them. Scottie Pippen wasn’t too fond of what The Big Diesel wrote and reminded him that, MJ and himself, won twice as many titles together than Shaq did while he was in L.A. That was only the beginning of the shade being thrown but that’s not what I want to focus on. In a hypothetical world, where both teams possess every player in their primes, who wins the 7 game matchup?
Let’s start with the back courts of Magic and Kobe vs. D-Rose and MJ. First, Magic is 6’8, 5 inches taller than his counter part, D-Rose. His long arms will also help him when passing and shooting over the smaller man. Of course, Rose would hold the advantage in the speed and quickness department but when you have Shaq and Kareem protecting the paint, that won’t matter as much; +1 for LA.
Prime Kobe against MJ is an event I would fork over my lifetime savings to attend. A case could be made for either guy, both two of the most skilled players, regardless of position, to EVER play the game. As tough of a call as it is on this one, I have to give the advantage to MJ. The Bulls team is built around Michael, this Laker team would want to feed the rock down low and use their size advantage. Michael is the focal point and therefore impacts the game a bit more. +1 Bulls. 1-1 so far…
If we’re judging whose playing what position by where they’re positioned on the photo then the Lakers forwards would be, Elgin Baylor and Shaquille O’Neal, vs. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Baylor could score the ball against any man they put in front of him, but, Pippen could lock down anybody in front of him. So what is the outcome when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? This matchup was the hardest one to decide, both Top 50 NBA players of all time, both could score, defend, and rebound. Scottie was bigger and more athletic but Baylor could get around that with that running bank shot he was so famous for. This one’s a tie, and the point goes to both teams, 2-2 so far…
Shaq and Rodman opposing each other can be deceptive to the untrained mind. Both well-known stars on the court, we still can’t forget that at his prime, Shaq at 7’1, 315 lbs will wear down Rodman physically for 48 minutes. With four other major scoring threats on the floor, there will be no double team, if you bring help, you will get burned. I love Rodman’s tenacity but you can’t guard a monolith like Shaq one-on-one, all game. Many tried, many more failed. 3-2 LA.
That leads us to the easiest matchup to decide, Kareem vs Horace Grant. Kareem is the NBA’s all time leading scorer, mostly in part to his famous Sky hook. I think Grant stands no chance whatsoever. Kareem possesses a wide array of moves, and even though Grant was a physical defender in his day, he’s outclassed. Kareem can go over, around, or through Grant all night long, dancing on the ceiling if he wanted to. 4-2 win in favor of the Lakers.
Even though I agree with Shaq about the Lakers taking this one, I’m skeptical that it would be a 50 point game. The Bulls still have Michael Jordan on their team. You know you have a puncher’s chance when he’s on the floor. In a 7 game series, I see this going 4-2 LA. Their large presence on the block will ultimately be too much for a smaller Bulls squad with less moving power. There’s simply too much muscle and bulk in the way for the Bulls to handle. At the end of the series I predict Kareem as the MVP. With that kind of talent in collaboration, Kareem would have the opportunity to properly showcase his talents and really shine.