Shaquille O’Neal reminds the world how dominant he and Kobe Bryant were as a playoff duo

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

A post from a fan page on Instagram dedicated to former Los Angeles Lakers big man Shaquille O’Neal highlights just how dominant he and Kobe Bryant were as a tandem in the playoffs.

The post — which O’Neal also shared — claims to list the top eight scoring duos in any single playoff run in league history. It’s worth noting, however, that the post seemingly only includes playoff runs that ended in championships.

O’Neal and Bryant averaged a combined 59.8 points per game in the 2001 playoffs. Additionally, they averaged 55.1 points per game in the 2002 playoffs. They’re well-represented on the graphic.

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant

Bryant and O’Neal led the Lakers to NBA titles in both 2001 and 2002. Before that, they also got the job done in 2000.

In the 2001 playoffs, the Lakers absolutely dominated their competition, as Los Angeles swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening round before doing the same to the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in the next two rounds.

The Lakers didn’t lose a single playoff game until Game 1 of the NBA Finals, when they fell to the Philadelphia 76ers by six points thanks to a 48-point performance from star guard Allen Iverson.

But after dropping Game 1, Los Angeles won the final four games of the series and eliminated the 76ers in five games.

O’Neal, Bryant and the Lakers dealt with more adversity in the 2002 playoffs than they did the year prior. After making quick work of their first two opponents — the Trail Blazers and Spurs — Los Angeles played a talented Kings team led by Chris Webber in the Western Conference Finals.

The Kings pushed the Lakers to the brink of elimination, as Sacramento held a 3-2 series lead after winning Game 5. But Los Angeles ended up taking the last two games of the series and beat the Kings in Game 7 by six points.

Following that tightly contested Western Conference Finals series, the Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals to win the franchise its third title in a row.

O’Neal’s and Bryant’s individual numbers combined with the team success that the Lakers enjoyed during their time as teammates present a strong argument for the two players as one of the most dominant duos in the sport’s history.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.