5 or 6. That’s how many championships Shaq said he and Kobe probably would have won had he not been traded to the Heat. Considering Shaq ended up with another ring in Miami and Kobe won two (out of 3 Finals appearances) without him, I think 5 or 6 sounds very fair for “the best 1,2 punch in NBA history.”
The question that isn’t asked as often as “what if Shaq didn’t demand to be traded (supposedly the day after losing in the Finals to the Pistons)” is “would Kobe have stayed with the Lakers if Shaq did get his extension?” At that time, the Clippers were making a lot of moves preparing to make a run at Kobe, but they were about $30 million short of what the Lakers could offer him.
The Lakers solved everything by trading Shaq to the Eastern Conference for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a 1st round pick in a deal that Heat President Pat Riley was very happy about.
“Today the Miami Heat took a giant step forward in our continued pursuit of an NBA championship,” Riley said. “We feel that we have traded for the best player in the NBA. You don’t get many chances to acquire the best player in the league.”
Shaq had a MVP worthy year that season and won a championship the next. Kobe and the Lakers would win their next two championships soon after.
The question I like to ponder more is “how many championships would Penny and Shaq have taken from Michael Jordan had they stayed together?” Last year on Open Court, the panel all agreed that if that Magic team would have stayed together, they would have been the team to beat in the 90s – not the Bulls.
Here’s a great interview from 2002 with 3 of the Magic knuckleheads reminiscing about those days.