Kobe and Dwight Gives the Answer on Kobe/ShaqBy James F.
A long, long time ago, there was a dynamic duo of a young Kobe Bryant and his veteran big man Shaquille O’Neal teaming up to win three NBA Championships. Despite all of their success, these two super stars could not get along. Who’s fault was it that they could not get along? There were many people on both sides of that argument. Still many more felt it was both. Both wanted top billing in Los Angeles. It came to the point where they forced the Lakers to choose, so they chose Kobe and shipped Shaq off to the Miami Heat where he teamed up with a young Dwayne Wade and won another championship.
Shaq had the reputation though of not being as serious as he could have been about his basketball career. This irked the “basketball is everything” Bryant. So these two personalities never meshed and eventually became combative. So when Shaq won his next ring before Kobe, he made sure to rub it in. But his career was winding down as his weight was trending upward. Kobe eventually passed Shaq with five championship rings. He tied Shaq by beating the team who drafted him, the Orlando Magic.
The Magic had drafted another young stud at center who fancied himself as “Superman” like O’Neal did. His name was Dwight Howard. Howard is a re-incarnation of Shaq. So much so that Shaq is irritated by it, much like an older brother who can’t stand little brother following him around all the time trying to mimic him. Howard took Orlando by storm, much like Shaq. He made them an almost instant playoff team, like Shaq. He dominated the paint like Shaq. He couldn’t sink a free throw to save his life, like Shaq. He brought the Magic an Eastern Conference Championship, like Shaq. Once they lost the NBA Finals, he decided that a championship could not be won in Orlando, like Shaq. He eventually wound up paired with Kobe as a Laker, like Shaq.
And now as a Laker, his light-hearted, playful ways are angering Kobe, like Shaq. So as you may have guessed, Kobe and Dwight are not playing nice with one another. One thing is not like the Shaq days, though. The Lakers are not winning. And this has Kobe in an even fouler mood. Kobe has questioned Howard’s pain tolerance, his seriousness, his commitment, and his work ethic.
But one thing Kobe has forgotten, or maybe never learned in the first place is, that at the end of the day, basketball is a game. It is not life and death. It is supposed to be fun. That’s the reason you play games. It’s okay to play them to win, but the main reason you play it is to have fun. If you win the championship but had no fun doing it, then you missed the point.
Shaq and Dwight seemed to understand this, if maybe a bit too much. But Shaq walked away with four championship rings in his day and had fun doing it, so it is hard to criticize. Could he have won more had he been more serious? Perhaps. But would you rather win four titles while enjoying the game and the life or win five like Kobe, with nothing ever being good enough?
If Kobe had any sense, he would lighten up a bit. That could perhaps bring Howard closer to his way of thinking and maybe he would get more serious. All you have to do is look at the other team in the building and Chris Paul. Paul has made it a priority that his team gets along. He took them out in the preseason and had them to his house. Look at the Clippers record. Now look at the Lakers record. Which one is working?