The Lakers would have “ran the table for a decade” had those pesky Spurs not stood in their path to NBA championship glory, according to Kobe Bryant.
They were, after all, the only Western Conference foe to eliminate the Purple and Gold from the postseason when Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were both starters—1999 and 2003, the latter halting a potential four-peat.
Los Angeles and San Antonio dominated throughout The Black Mamba’s 20-year career, with each franchise winning five titles.
Per News 4 San Antonio (via the “All the Smoke” podcast):
“San Antonio was tough. They were tough and when the playoffs came around, it wasn’t like Shaq and I weren’t on the same page,” Bryant told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
“We just got beat. The bigger question should be, ‘How many would we have won if the Spurs weren’t the Spurs?’ We would have ran the table for a decade.
“The talent, the coaching, everything in San Antonio was kind of a perfect storm. If they weren’t in the picture we probably would have run 10 in a row.”