Kobe Bryant presents an interesting argument for how his Lakers teams with Shaq could beat today’s Warriors

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  • In TNT’s sit-down conversation special with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant discusses how their Los Angeles Lakers teams would have stacked up with other great NBA dynasties.
  • He seems to mention the Golden State Warriors by mentioning small-ball, and he presents and interesting argument for why his Lakers teams could beat the Warriors.
  • Bryant argues that Shaquille O’Neal would have slowed the game down and made the Warriors uncomfortable.
  • He also says the entire exercise is fruitless, because there’s no real way to compare teams of different eras.

In TNT’s “Players Only: Shaq & Kobe” sit-down conversation special, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal re-hash their days as a dynasty with the Los Angeles Lakers and discuss their feud that broke up those teams.

During the 45-minute special, which airs on TNT on Saturday at 7pm ET, Bryant and O’Neal discuss how their teams would match up with some of the other great teams in NBA history, and Bryant seems to bring up the Golden State Warriors.

Nearly every great player in NBA history has argued that their teams could beat the Warriors. The argument is often fruitless, as changes in rules and schemes have changed the game over decades, and there’s no real way to know how the teams would stack up anyway.

However, Bryant presents an interesting argument for how the Lakers would beat the Warriors, though he doesn’t name them directly, just referring to today’s “small-ball.” Many of today’s NBA analysts believe the Warriors, with their speed and shooting, could run bigger, slower teams off the court. If nothing else, their reliance on three-pointers would put math on their side. But Bryant argues that the Lakers were uniquely constructed to take down the Warriors.

“I don’t think you guys really understand how much we controlled paced and tempo,” Bryant says of critics who argued the Lakers couldn’t keep up today. “Because with [Shaq] down there, the game stops. You can’t go anywhere. Because the defense has gotta come down and get you, which stops them from running out. There’s nothing you can do. There’s no long rebounds, none of that going on. The game is always chopped up because you’re always drawing fouls all the time.

“And so, I would just love to see how they would deal with that.”

There hasn’t been a singular, foolproof method to beating today’s Warriors, but they have at times struggled with physical teams that slow the game down and prevent transition opportunities. The Lakers, with O’Neal in the paint could have done that, perhaps forcing the Warriors to go big, and making the game ugly by drawing fouls.

Of course, even Bryant recognizes that the entire exercise is silly. While talking about other great dynasties, he says there’s no real way to figure out who would win.

“I would love to be able to take our ’01 team, matched up with the ’91 Bulls team … the ’89 Lakers, before Magic [Johnson] got hurt, and roll the ball out, and we can play and see what happens,” Bryant says. “But unfortunately, we can’t. So to be able to sit here and say we were the best, we’re better is – what difference does that make?”

Bryant is right – those teams will never face off, so nobody will ever know. It makes for a fun debate, nonetheless.

Of course, Warriors coach Steve Kerr may have had the best answer to the entire subject last year.

“They would all kill us,” Kerr said of former dynasties. “The game gets worse as time goes on. Players are less talented than they used to be. The guys in the ’50s would’ve destroyed everybody.”