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Shaq: Kobe would ‘definitely be proud’ of LeBron, AD leading Lakers to title

While Shaquille O’Neal insists the magic he and Kobe Bryant created during their dynastic run with the Los Angeles Lakers will never be duplicated, he thinks the late NBA legend would have been thrilled with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the iconic organization to its 17th title.

“After all that we went through [in 2020], it was a good ending for them to win the championship,” O’Neal said this week, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “I am sure if [Bryant] was still here, he would definitely be proud and showing his love and support on social media.”

The Lakers unsurprisingly made sure that Bryant remained in the hearts and minds of fans throughout the league’s play in the bubble at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Fla.

James even mentioned following a postseason victory over the Houston Rockets that he hoped that Bryant and his family were “proud” of what the Lakers were accomplishing in the postseason.

Shaq, meanwhile, understandably was devastated by Kobe’s tragic death along with daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, and he continues to mourn his dear friend’s untimely passing to this day.

Still, the Hall of Famer cautions that it isn’t fair to LeBron and AD to expect them live in the shadow of the legacy created by himself and Bryant.

“There will never be the next [Shaq and Kobe],” O’Neal said. “… We don’t need them to catch up to us. Kobe and myself were not trying to catch Magic [Johnson] and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]. … Kobe and I, [our] legacy will never be duplicated. Or imitated.

“… We could never be Magic and Kareem. And we can never be LeBron and AD.”

O’Neal and Bryant played together for eight years and won three consecutive NBA championships between 2000 and 2002. James and Davis, meanwhile, will attempt to make it back-to-back titles this season.

What’s more, it’s possible with both superstars locked into contracts for the next few years that they potentially could make it three in a row just like their Laker superstar predecessors.