Shaq praises Kobe’s basketball brilliance

With
Kobe Bryant wrapping up his fifth NBA championship, he has earned praise from
the NBA’s greats, even one who used to be arguably his biggest critic.

Shaquille
O’Neal praised Bryant’s growth defending his former Lakers team-mate’s
reputation and saying he “has evolved as the greatest player in Lakers
history.”

“First
of all, he is definitely a closer,” O’Neal said. “He has evolved as the
greatest player in Lakers history, surpassing Magic Johnson and Jerry West.
Especially since he has won this championship, you know, he probably will go
down as the greatest Laker ever.”

O’Neal
also ripped critics who take shots at Bryant’s place among the greats and his
legacy.

“The
guys who are making those comments or comparisons obviously cannot play,”
O’Neal said. “The kid has 26,000 points; he passed up Jerry West already and is
on his way to winning his sixth title. He doesn’t need a signature closing
move. It’s all about winning championships.”

The
Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a big early deficit last Thursday to win their
second successive NBA championship with a cliff-hanging 83-79 game seven
victory over the Boston Celtics. The triumph gave the Lakers a 16th
championship and a record 11th for coach Phil Jackson as they also became the
first team to repeat as NBA champions since winning three in a row from 2000.

Bryant
won the Finals MVP award in spite of making just six of 24 shots in game seven.
The Lakers guard did not comment on O’Neal’s sentiments, talking only about
winning again.

“This
one is by far the sweetest because it’s against them (the Celtics) and because
it’s the hardest one by far. I wanted it so bad and sometimes you want
something so bad it slips away from you. My guys really picked me up.”