With a decisive conclusion to an NBA season where The Finals showcased an overwhelmed Orlando team fall to a historic Los Angeles franchise, Kobe Bryant can finally lay to rest the claims that he can’t win it all without the aid of Shaquille O’Neal or any other player.
Or can he?
True, Bryant is celebrating his fourth championship; his first without O’Neal patrolling the post area. But now there is another teammate of Bryant’s that can boast what O’Neal has rapped and twittered about. Beneath the Kobe/ Shaq Rivalry veneer is a shiny new truth: Kobe Bryant has never won an NBA title without Derek Fisher.
Let’s explore the facts.
Both Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have played thirteen years in the NBA. The back court tandem combined to win the championship three years in a row from 2000- 2002.
Fisher tested the free agent market after the 2003- 2004 season, landing in Golden State. Later, as a member of the Utah Jazz, Fisher reached the Western Conference Finals in 2006- 2007.
During the same length of time, Bryant remained with the Lakers and led his team to successive early round playoff exits and a draft lottery pick at the end of the 2004- 2005 campaign.
Fisher accepted a salary cut and returned to Los Angeles in 2007, where the Lakers returned to the NBA Finals in consecutive years, winning it all just a few days ago.
To be fair, no one individual can win an NBA championship by themselves. In the realm of sports, the right cocktail of player abilities and temperament is the requirement to hoist a golden trophy over your head.
For Kobe Bryant, the main ingredient happens to be Derek Fisher.