Although Shaquille O’Neal won three championships with the late Kobe Bryant, he was not teammates with the Hall of Famer when he dropped his career-high 81 points.
Still, that does not stop the Laker great from having his own opinions about Kobe’s unreal performance. During a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show he sounded off on who he feels could surpass Kobe’s performance today. All three Nets’ stars made his list.
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Shaq Has High Praise for Nets’ Stars
“If anybody could do it, I think it’d be James [Harden], Kyrie [Irving], KD, Steph [Curry], Devin Booker. Those are the names that come to mind right now that could surpass that.”
All five players have repertoires that include high-scoring performances. Of the names mentioned, though, one has come dangerously close to beating Kobe’s record.
Suns’ guard Devin Booker, in his second year as a pro, faced the Boston Celtics at TD Garden and scored a career-high 70 points on a whopping 52% from the field. He became the youngest player in NBA history to score 60+ in a game.
Booker played the late Bryant during his final season. He scored 28 points and had 7 assists to lead the Suns in a 107-119 win over the Lakers. After the game, Bryant asked the young star to meet him in the locker room, where he would gift him something priceless – a signed pair of his signature shoes with the message “Be Legendary” written on them.
James Harden and Kyrie Irving have also had virtuoso scoring performances. Kyrie’s career-high 57 points came against the San Antonio Spurs during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Harden has scored 60 or more points four times in his career. The former Most Valuable player has also led the league in scoring each of the last three seasons.
Shaq Won’t Ease up on Today’s Stars
O’Neal has been very vocal about players of today. Most notably with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert after he received a 5-year, $205 million supermax contract extension. To put it nicely O’Neal didn’t think the Jazz center was deserving of such a hefty payday.
“I’m not gonna hate, but this should be an inspiration to all the little kids out there. You average 11 points in the NBA, you can get $200 million, ” O’Neal said via CBS Sports.
Though he has received backlash for his criticism of players, Shaq will not back down. The four-time champion thinks that young guys now cannot take constructive criticism, because when he was playing you just took what older guys said and improved on your game.
“I’m just doing what was done to me,” O’Neal said on the Dan Patrick Show.
“I can remember when I was averaging 30, 35 in L.A., but we were always getting swept. And the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, ‘Hey you guys haven’t won a championship yet.’ Did I whine? Did I cry? Did I complain on social media? Nope, I didn’t say anything because Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a chief-14 classification to say that. What am I gonna do? Have a dispute with the greatest NBA player ever? So, when he said that, when he gave me constructive criticism, I took it, and I listened, and I brought my game to another level. So, these guys now, they’re pudding pops.”
The Nets wrapped up the season winning 10 of their last 11 games and are a half-game back of the top seed in the conference heading into the All-Star break.