Kobe Bryant played the game professionally for 20 years. All with the Lakers. Over those 20 years, it’s fair to say he’s had some great teammates, so rounding this down to a top 3 wasn’t easy.
Some of those names not making the cut but deserve a mention are:
Rick Fox: A Key piece in the Lakers 3 Peat, and great friend of Kobe’s. He may not have had the flashy plays and big shots, but was a vital role player, who never overplayed his hand and did everything needed for this team to succeed.
Robert Horry: Big Shot Bob! Robert Horry made some of the biggest shots in Lakers history, none bigger than the game-winner against Sacramento to extend the series. It’s an iconic moment in Lakers History, who then went on to defeat Sacramento and sweep the Nets to complete the 3peat.
Lamar Odom: Lamar Odom was a generational big almost before his time. For his size, his ball-handling ability was something else, and a constant mismatch for opposing bigs at the 4 spot.
When Lamar went through his off-court dramas, it was none other than Kobe Bryant that practically saved his life from spiraling completely out of control. It was a special bond that Lamar and Kobe had.
Coming in at No.3: Derek Fisher:
Just like all of these Top 3 selections, all could be Number 1.
Derek Fisher came into the league with Kobe, drafted 24th overall in 1996 to the LA Lakers.
Kobe was taken 13th overall to the Charlotte Hornets, only to be traded to the Lakers on draft night to join Fisher.
Fisher won all 5 Championships alongside Kobe, winning his first 3 before moving around the league after the 2004 fall out. For those that recall the 0.4secs left buzzer-beater he hit against the Spurs to advance to the NBA Finals…special!
Fisher eventually returned to the Lakers in 2007 through to 2012, where he won a further 2 rings with Kobe, cementing his legacy as one of the great backcourt sidekicks to the Black Mamba.
Fisher hit a huge 3 in game 4 against Orlando to tie the game, sending it into OT, with the Lakers eventually prevailing and winning the series in 5 games (as well as Fisher and Kobe’s 4th title together).
No. 2. Pau Gasol:
I don’t think many people could have predicted the special bond that Kobe and Pau had. Pau came over in a trade that changed the direction the franchise was heading in, and something that was needed to get Kobe and the Lakers back to Championship Glory.
Kobe could speak Spanish (as well as multiple other languages), which made communication between the two on the court even better, giving them an edge against their opposition.
Gasol was huge in the Lakers two championships, coming up with tough buckets against the likes of Howard in Orlando, and his famous double-clutch effort over KG in Game 7 to give the Lakers the breathing room they needed to win the title.
The two were incredibly close off the court also, and it continues to this day. Since Kobe and Gianna’s passing, Uncle Pau has been pictured at the family home multiple times, looking after his little nieces, and making sure Vanessa has all the support she needs.
It hurts so much to know that Kobe won’t get the chance to be Uncle Kobe to Pau’s soon to be born child.
When someone says “look out for my family if anything happens to me”, this is what it means for Pau Gasol.
The true definition of a brother and friend. Famiglia!
No. 1: Shaquille O’Neal:
Is there anyone larger than life than Shaq?
Even given their fall out, Shaq gets the number 1 spot on Kobe’s greatest ever teammate.
Watching these two team up when times were good, was poetry in motion. Shaq was one of the most (if not the most) dominant big men of all time. Having the strength of the big fella inside, to go along with Kobe’s skill on the perimeter, they were near unstoppable together.
The only thing that could get in the way of these two continuing on their merry way of championship glory, was which superstar wanted to take the step back to allow the other to be the alpha. Neither wanted to, and the fall out began.
It’s such a shame that it happened this way, as Shaq has said so himself, it’s one of the biggest regrets in his life.
The two began their reconciliation process in the 2008-09 all-star game in Phoenix, where they were named co-MVP. Kobe gave his all-star game MVP trophy to Shaq’s son Shareef, and the family looked to be getting things back on track.
That same season, Kobe led the Lakers to their first championship post-Shaq era, and O’Neal gave plaudits to his ex-teammate on twitter (seemingly ending any beef they had left).
Seeing the big fella fairly emotional at the Kobe Memorial (as well as being his usual jovial self to try and lighten the mood as much as possible), showed how close the two were over the years post feud.
Shareef O’Neal posts all the time about his chats with Uncle Kobe, and it breaks your heart to know they won’t get the chance to get even more help from him on and off the court.
Shaq and Kobe were the Lakers, and there will never be another duo like them.