The "team/player from past era" would beat "team/player from current era" debate is by far the most nauseating in sports, yet fans simply cannot get enough. It's why relief pitcher Adam Ottavino saying he could strike out Babe Ruth "every time" he faced him if Ruth played today's game was a story that generated some buzz earlier this week. For some reason, people are dying to find out who would come out on top in a matchup that could never possibly happen.
On Wednesday, Shaquille O'Neal ignited a similar debate when he told USA Today he felt he and Kobe's Lakers, specifically the 2000-2002 NBA Finals three-peat squad, would "easily" beat the current Golden State Warriors, a team that could become the first team to three-peat in the NBA since those Lakers if they win the Finals this year.
"I think we'd easily win," said O'Neal. "Other people might feel different, they (the Warriors) might feel different. But we had one of the best teams of all-time in 2001 when we went 15-1 in the playoffs. We would've gone 16-0 but A.I. (Allen Iverson) went off on us and stepped over (former Laker) Ty Lue."
Naturally, O'Neal's comments about this impossible matchup quickly made the rounds, even reaching the Warriors locker room prior to their game Wednesday night with the Toronto Raptors. When asked by ESPN about Shaq's takes, Stephen Curry fired back.
"Oh, he's dead wrong," said Curry, adding, "Of course. We'd beat them. We can go back-and-forth all day."
Despite there being absolutely no way of it possibly happening, Jeff Sherman of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook told ESPN that the Warriors would be a heavy favorite over Shaq and Kobe's squad on a neutral court:
12.5? Can you say LIVE underdog? Gimme the Lakers!
As much as I respect the oddsmakers, this means absolutely nothing barring the construction of a time machine that could make this game happen. This doesn't make Curry right or Shaq wrong, it's just merely a fun debate that people love to have. Curry echoed that sentiment to ESPN.
"For me, I think it's a tough conversation because I've always found it hard to compare eras to each other," Curry said. "But in terms of having three banners up there and create parallels and comparisons to how they dominated the league through their run to what we're doing now, I think that speaks a lot on its own."
Bingo. The current Warriors and 2000-2002 Lakers are both historically great teams that we should just try and appreciate rather than saying one would DESTROY the other. But again, I'll take the Lakers and the points.