During the 2000s, there was arguably no player better than the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. He was the face of the league at the time and won five NBA Championships in the decade. Apart from that, Bryant achieved a plethora of things that made him one of the most decorated players in the history of the NBA.
However, the biggest talent that Bryant possessed was none other than his hard work and the fire to be better than everyone around him. We have heard countless stories about Kobe’s amazing mamba mentality and how he used it to be better than his opponents. Despite that, fans tend to skip his name when we talk about the GOAT debate.
Most believe apart from Michael Jordan, LeBron James is the closest to being the GOAT, and to be honest, that’s a great point. But when it comes to having a better skill set and mentality, Bryant easily surpasses James.
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the few lucky players who had a chance to play alongside both Kobe and LeBron during his NBA career. Shaq was in his prime when he shared the court with Bryant but was a shell of himself when he joined forces with James.
After spending time with the two players, O’Neal certainly knows the mentality of the two players. In 2011, the NBA Hall of Famer used this knowledge to explain why Bryant was better than James.
Via SLAM Online:
“People ask me all the time: If you had to choose between DWade and LeBron, which would you take? Which one would you make the CEO? It’s really a tough question. LeBron is a better decision maker. DWade will hit more last-second shots. Lots of superstars in their position want and need to take the last shot. LeBron is more of an ‘opportunity’ CEO. He’s not afraid to take the last shot, but he won’t hesitate to pass it to an open Mike Miller either. So, where do these two guys measure up against Kobe? Kobe is a scientific dawg. He works out every day, practices every day. Most of the other stars are just dawgs, not scientific dawgs. Me, I’m a freak-of-nature dawg because of my size. LeBron could be a scientific dawg like Kobe, but he’s got a lot going on like I did, so that’s preventing him from being one.”
Shaq was originally answering about the mentality of the Miami Heat’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. But he ended up talking about why Kobe was better than LeBron. O’Neal’s assessment was spot on since we have seen James being a pass-first guy. On the other hand, Bryant always backed himself up and was ready to take the final shot of the game no matter what the situation,