What everyone really wants to see is Kobe throw an ally-oop to Shaq, just like in game seven against Portland back in 2000.
For one night — Sunday night’s NBA All Star game in Phoenix — it would be great to have those memories of the three-peat Lakers back. For one night only, Phil Jackson will be patrolling the sidelines, Kobe Bryant will be handling the ball and, when he comes in off the bench as a reserve, Shaquille O’Neal will be demanding the ball on the block. All on the same team.
There are amazing memories for Lakers fans that flood back with that trio. Like with any old relationship, time has faded the bad memories. Fans choose not to remember 2004, when the enormous egos of all three of these guys ended up ripping apart a team that should have kept winning titles. Fans forget about Jackson playing one superstar off another for short-term gains. Instead they remember the good times. They remember Kobe hugging the Larry O’Brien trophy, Shaq rapping at the victory parades and Mark Madsen dancing. Well, everyone has tried to forget that last part, too, but it is seared into our brains. Even the players involved talk about those days as good times now, with Shaq trying to convince everyone his feud with Kobe was all marketing. Nobody's memories are that cloudy, but it makes a good story, and Shaq is all about the good stories.
The All Star game is about as meaningless a setting as there could be for this reunion, which makes it safe to remember the good times. The Lakers are not bringing Shaq back — you don’t mess with the chemistry of a title contender, and the Lakers already have their center of the future under contract. There literally isn’t room for him on the block, Shaq will remain at the center of a crumbling Suns franchise.
But at some point in the second quarter Sunday night, Kobe could get the ball on the wing, make a perfect entry pass to Shaq on the block, then cut into the lane and get a pretty feed back from the big man over the double team. Shaq could slip his coverage backdoor with the quickness a man his size just should not have and be open for an ally-oop from Bryant handing the ball out past the top of the key.
And for a few minutes, it will look like they were wearing the gold home uniforms of the Lakers again. At least in all our minds.