Kobe and Shaq’s super-hyped Christmas Day battle gets a deep rewind | 2004 Lakers vs. Heat


– It’s Christmas Day, 2004. The visiting Miami Heat lead
the L.A. Lakers by two points with just a few seconds left in overtime. Kobe Bryant has the
ball, and a final chance to win this thing. I’m not gonna lie to you, in
terms of its actual effect on history, this moment
doesn’t really matter. But that’s not what Christmas
Day NBA games are about. Christmas games are about drama. To understand the narrative
and the emotions at play here, we need to understand
the history behind people on this floor, as well
as some people off of it. Before Kobe attempts to claim this moment as his own, let’s rewind. (inquisitive digital music) It’s Christmas, so you know
this matchup is special. NBA on Christmas is a
tradition that dates back to December 25, 1947, the
league’s second season, when the Knicks beat the
Providence Steamrollers. This is when like 1/2
the Knicks were Jews, so they were probably fine with it. The NBA has done Christmas ever since, and the league leans
into it by making sure the games transmit nationally
resonant storylines. It’s a day to pit rival
teams against one other, to stage dramatic individual matchups. That got kinda awkward earlier today. The first game on the Christmas
slate was Pistons-Pacers, a matchup of last season’s
champion, and the bitter rival they upset in the Eastern
Conference Finals. It was also a rematch of this, for which a couple players
are still suspended. That rivalry might be a
bit too bitter, but yeah, the league put Heat-Lakers
on Christmas for a reason, and it’s clearly not
because the Heat and Lakers are longtime rivals. It’s because this was
the first-ever matchup between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Shaq’s return to Los Angeles
after eight eventful years as Kobe’s teammate. By the end of the ’03-’04 season, the Lakers were volatile to say the least. Shaq and Kobe had been
openly battling all year, and that’s when Kobe was around, which he often wasn’t because of his ongoing sexual assault case. On the court, Phil Jackson’s
superstar-stuffed team fell short in the NBA
Finals, and at season’s end, Phil’s contract was up, Kobe
would opt out of his contract to become a free agent,
and Shaq had the leverage to push for a trade. All three of them had said nasty things to and about one another. It would have taken a miracle
to keep that core together, and there would be no miracle. Days after the Finals loss,
the Lakers let Phil Jackson go. The Lakers would eventually replace Phil with Rudy Tomjanovich, another legendary, championship-winning coach,
who had taken a year away from the NBA while recovering
from bladder cancer. Rudy was really the only
contender for the job after Duke’s Mike Krzyzewki
said no, meanwhile, just days after Jackson’s
departure, Shaq did indeed demand a trade. It wasn’t clear at that point whether Kobe would stick in L.A., but Shaq believed legitimately that the organization
favored his younger teammate, and was fed up. Immediately, the Lakers
were fielding calls from most of the league’s
teams, but they focused on potential trade partners
with whom Shaq might actually sign a contract extension. Shaq and Orlando’s Tracy
McGrady were both angling to become Dallas Mavericks, but the Mavs wouldn’t make Dirk Nowitzki
available to trade, maybe not even Steve Nash. The same went for the Pacers and their best player, Jermaine O’Neal. The Nets were pursuing
the New Jersey native, but couldn’t get it done
with packages centered around Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles. A return to the Magic
would’ve made Shaq happy, but after dealing T-Mac to the Rockets, Orlando wasn’t gonna make it happen. The Venn diagram of
teams Shaq would accept and teams that could actually
produce a decent return for the Lakers narrowed
to one, the Miami Heat, and in mid-July, they finally got it done. The Lakers got promising
youngsters, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler, veteran
big-man, Brian Grant, and a draft pick. The Heat got Shaq. Around the same time, Kobe had been holding free agency meetings with teams like the Bulls,
Knicks, and Nuggets, and most notably, the Clippers, the team in the very same building. But really, Kobe was just waiting to make sure Shaq left town. A day after the O’Neal
trade became official, and still in the middle
of his legal proceedings, Kobe re-signed in L.A. for seven years and over $136 million. By the way, we’re not
guessing at what these people were thinking and feeling about each other before the Lakers fell apart. We’ve heard it directly from Phil Jackson, who released a book called The Last Season two months before this game. That guy writes fast. This tell-all book made
Kobe in particular look bad, and injected some extra hype
into this matchup today. It was hype that Shaq
couldn’t help but stoke when asked what would happen if Kobe drove the lane against him. He compared that to a
Corvette hitting a brick wall. But Shaq mostly downplayed the hysteria, expressing contentment with
his new situation in Miami, and his new co-star,
second-year guard, Dwyane Wade. His old co-star sounded more
apologetic than anything, and I think this Kobe-Shaq
battle has lived up to any reasonable expectation, considering they don’t
play the same position. The two exchanged a
totally ordinary handshake before tip-off. Shaq swatted Kobe’s
very first shot attempt, then Kobe hit a gorgeous
fade-away over him the next time down. And if you’re wondering why Shaq’s not on the floor
right now, it’s because a few minutes ago, the Corvette did indeed hit the brick wall,
and that was the brick wall’s sixth foul, Shaq fouled out. But let’s talk about who is on the floor, ’cause this is kind of a ragtag bunch. Start with Miami. Here’s Wade, who is already
playing like an All Star in his sophomore season, and who, despite a leg injury, has
had a thrilling battle ‘ with Kobe this evening,
producing quite a bit, and missing quite a bit, too, to keep pace with his opponent. Wade has even directly
confronted him a few times. It’s been awesome to watch,
although it could’ve been even sweeter if Wade got
his game-winner to fall at the end of regulation. By Wade’s side, helping him
on Kobe, is Eddie Jones, an interesting bridge
between these two guys. At the time the Lakers traded
for Kobe on Draft Night ’96, Jones was their best-scoring guard. Jones was Kobe’s mentor for
years, and eventually got traded as the blossoming youngster
took over his role. Jones has been in Miami since 2000, and led the Heat in
scoring for a couple years, but there’s a new kid in town. Jones has ceded the
shooting guard position and a whole lot of touches
to the younger Wade, and now Shaq’s here too. This must all feel very
familiar to Eddie Jones, but the rest of these guys
aren’t quite so familiar. Trading three starters for
the highest-paid player in the NBA meant the Heat had to do some creative back-filling
to field a decent team. Here’s Udonis Haslem. In 2002, he was undrafted, overweight, and playing for a mediocre French team. Two years, and one breakout
training camp later, he’s Miami’s regular
starting power forward, and he’s finished some
gorgeous connections with Wade here today. Damon Jones went undrafted
out of Houston in 1997, then became a journeyman,
first in obscure leagues and then with a different
NBA team every year. But this season, his first
in Miami, Jones has grabbed the starting point guard
spot, and has busted out as one of the league’s deadliest shooters. He hit a huge three to
help keep this game close at the end of regulation. This guy’s a little different. This is Christian Laettner. Yes, that Christian Laettner. The despised Duke legend
and former All Star who is now 35 years old,
and taking one last spin before he hangs it up for good. On a shallow Heat roster, he is one of the best bench players, and he hit a pretty neat runner
to beat the halftime buzzer, but he is only on the floor right now because Shaq fouled out. Hi, Christian. With this lopsided combination
of undrafted achievers, star guards, young and old, and Shaq, the Heat have formed something special. They’re they best team in the
Eastern Conference right now, which is a big step up from last year, and has a lot to do with this man. Days before the ’03-’04 season began, longtime Miami
coach-slash-president, Pat Riley, abruptly resigned as coach,
and promoted veteran assistant Stan Van Gundy to take his place. Van Gundy led what had been a losing squad into the playoffs, and even won a series, thanks in part to the
heroics of the rookie Wade. After the Heat fell to the
Pacers in the second round, Riley did Van Gundy another
solid, gifting him the largest and most dominant force of his generation. After losing three rotation
players for one Shaq, the Mustache Man has wasted no time building a world class
offense and defense. In fact, since Van Gundy made Damon Jones his regular starting point guard, Miami has won ten straight games. This team can reasonably be
expected to battle the Pistons for the Eastern Conference
title, and honestly, anything less might make
Riley a little antsy. But for now, the Heat are
hangin’ on for dear life in a regular season
game against the Lakers, and that’s not as noble a
situation as it used to be. Take a look at who coach Tomjanovich has on the floor with Kobe. Here’s Odom, who’s having
a nice first season as Kobe’s Swiss Army Knife sidekick, and who’s been excellent
today, right up through the huge three-pointer that
kept L.A. in this game in OT. Caron Butler’s not here
because he got suspended for punching Dan Dickau a few days ago. Second year big man Brian Cook is on the floor for his shooting. It was either him, or Chris Mihm. These other two guys are Chucky
Atkins and Jumaine Jones. They averaged 10 points a
game combined last season, and yet, here they are, closing a game for a recent champion. The explosion of the
Phil-Kobe-Shaq triumvirate wasn’t the only important thing to happen to the Lakers this summer. The ’04 Lakers were a
ridiculous, superstar Megazord, and thee two losses were
pretty important, too. The Lakers wanted to re-sign Karl Malone. He was still effective in
his 40s, but after injuries plagued his season and
limited him in the Finals, Malone opted out of his contract, and he’s probably gonna retire. Gary Payton had been L.A.’s
starting point guard, but got lit up by Finals
MVP Chauncey Billups, so the Lakers traded him and
longtime glue guy, Rick Fox, to the Celtics, for this tasty
little platter of younger, worse players, who’d been
pushed into big minutes all season long, including today. All of this is to say, the Lakers belong almost entirely to Kobe now. Odom, Butler, and Grant can’t replace the guys who departed ,and
the rest of these dorks certainly don’t make up the difference. This is, for the first time in his career, unequivocally Kobe’s team. So how’s that going? Kobe has been struggling to find himself in a post-Shaq environment. He’s had nights of heaving over 30 shots, and nights of dishing out over 10 assists. He’s under 40% from the
field on the season, and just 31% from downtown so far. No matter what he’s done, the Lakers have stayed merely okay. A franchise that hasn’t missed
the playoffs in a decade sits at 14 and 11, outside
the playoff picture in a loaded Western Conference. Part of that is because Kobe
hasn’t delivered in the clutch, not so far this year. He’s taken about a 1/2 dozen
shots to win or tie games in the final minute, and
he’s missed all of them, including a couple late jumpers against the conference-leading
Suns earlier this month. Tonight’s been a mixed bag. Kobe has 42 points on 29 shots,
some of them very difficult. He’s handed out six assists, and committed nine ugly turnovers. Instead of breaking the tie himself in the final minute of
regulation, he passed out of a double team too
late for Chucky Atkins to beat the shot clock buzzer. So now he’s gonna take
this game winner himself, there is no doubt. And what will this shot do? In the course of history,
nothing important. But that’s never what it’s been about in the 1/2-century history
of Christmas NBA games. Christmas basketball is about narratives, about sending messages. With a make, Kobe could
say, even just for today, that he doesn’t need Shaq,
doesn’t need Phil to win, that the Lakers were right
to favor him as the face of the franchise’s new era. A miss, well, that’ll
provide momentary affirmation that Shaq made the right move, that he got out at the right time, and that he’s an
individual dominant enough to make a team great. Though, we shouldn’t forget the coach, the brilliant youngster and his mentor, and the wandering oddballs who have helped turn this team into a sudden contender. Whatever happens, it’ll
end one of the most-hyped Christmas games ever, and the rare one that’s lived up to it’s billing. Okay, welcome to a moment
in Christmas history. – [Al] Bryant gets doubled, Kobe Bryant! (buzzer sounding) (crowd cheering) (click)

100 thoughts on “Kobe and Shaq’s super-hyped Christmas Day battle gets a deep rewind | 2004 Lakers vs. Heat”

  1. You have NO right to call any player on that laker roster a DORK… And I do understand you are speaking in terms of NBA talent but they made it to the league….You couldn't hold a candle to those dorks. come on have some perspective

  2. The Dallas wouldn’t made Steve Nash a trade asset
    Nash walked out of Dallas the same season as a free agent….

  3. This Video is Gold! I Love The Lakers and I'm a Lakers Fan Kobe and Shaq are Unstoppabble! Unfortunately this Happens But I'm Still a Fan of Both of these players! thanks SB Nation for This!

  4. Christian was on a team with shaq? Wow there is automatic Dream Team article if the heat were coming to town. lol I do agree with what Christian said about that. His primary job was carrying those guys bags. Not sure if shaq would have enjoyed or even taken that job.

  5. kobe wasnt really waiting for shaq to be traded, he was legitimately close to goin to chicago until he heard the news shaq got traded

  6. All these kids Love Kobe sooo much because rappers always name drop him. But Kobe couldn’t hold iversons jockstrap. And anyone who watched back then knew that.

  7. I’ve just discovered this channel it’s awesome! Keep them videos coming Seth! Liked, subscribed and stacked a ton of vids in my ”watch later”!

  8. 😂😂😂😂 at all the rewind jokes here. BUT, im more interested in that red car vcr player. Where can I get it? 🤔

  9. Since this video made me think of it how about a rewind of Christian Laettner’s ‘92 winning shot against Kentucky?

  10. "..the Corvette did indeed hit the brick wall…and that was the brick wall's sixth foul." ROFL!!

  11. 11:08 "Kobe has 42pts on 29 shots, some of them very difficult"…Kobe, not even facing the basket, attempts a quadruple-teamed over-the-head flipshot over Shaq that doesn't hit the rim. LOL (he probably just threw it up b/c he anticipated a whistle)

  12. 11:13 "9 ugly turnovers…" yes, but even if that pass wasn't a turnover, BRIAN GRANT wasn't gonna do anything with that catch at 19 feet out

  13. 11:39 "Christmas-day games are about…sending messages" fanboys these days may think it was LeBron who was "sending messages," but I remember watching that TMac-LeBron matchup live on Dec 25 2003. Rookie LeBron held up, but TMac was on the sending end of whatever message he wanted LeBron to receive that day

  14. Hard to believe there was a time where you looked at the standings and saw the Suns were 23-3. Especially after the past 10 years

  15. Have they covered Sean Elliot's Memorial day Miracle? The only two Spurs videos they have are two loses.

  16. Great video, I remember this iconic game, I was like I don't think Kobe made that shot, but the game was still a HUGE deal. I'm impressed you really set the scene for this great moment even thought he didn't make it. Most other content creators would have passed on this for just that.

  17. You crack me up SB nation. You’re so dramatyou act like NBA events are so important it’s like 9/11 LOL “it’s June 8th, 2003… Kobe scores 22 points” 😂

  18. How about ARods last game? I would come from the angle of what a disgusting display of bullshit it was and how he wasn't retiring and nobody, even the Marlins, didn't want him and he had been a laughing stock of the league for a long time leading up to it… But you do you.. I'll love it either way.

  19. This was one of a series of games where I realized as a Heat fan that Wade was more than merely great, and that somehow my favorite player on the team WASN’T going to be the newly acquired Shaq I grew up loving lol

    I mean I loved Shaq, but Wade was just so damn confident and incredible from the start.

  20. I don't know if this will ever be seen but please do the 2008 mens 4×100 freestyle relay from the Beijing olympics, Michael Phelps 2nd gold medal on the way to winning 8 in one olympics. I don't like swimming that much but that was the most amazing finish to a race ever seen, even the announcers were in disbelief

  21. In a sea of NBA videos, your videos are by far my favorite. You're knowledgeable, your videos are intelligent and your cadence isn't abrasive or robotic like so many others. Love your stuff and the topics you choose. 🤙🤙🤙

  22. am I the only one who found the ending of this video hilarious? The way the narrator was hyping up the shot and the anti climatic miss make for comedy gold

  23. People forget about 04-05 Kobe before the mamba was born and he was looking like ya average ball dominate gaurd

  24. I like the videos except they all seem to end all of a sudden right at the climax… It would be nice to have an extra minute for a final take of what happened and the aftermath.

  25. This was a hard game, lakers fan forever and Shaq was my all time fav. It was one game i didnt root for anybody. Kobe is my 2nd fav ever, this was one of those games.

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