Although the West All-Stars dominated Sunday’s (February 15) NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix, it was Shaq and Kobe’s connect on the court that was the highlight of the game.
In the 146-119 victory over the Eastern Conference, Kobe Byrant led all scorers with 27 points. But Shaq, with just over 11 minutes on the court, threw down 17, and also sparked a 19-0 in the first quarter.
To start the game, the East quickly took the lead when the West nine of their first 11 shots, and trailed 20-10. But, West coach Phil Jackson quickly called a timeout, and threw in big Shaq to remedy the problem at 5:44 remaining in the first.
The trick worked, and the West scored the next 11 points with both Shaq and Kobe on the floor, playing together again, helping the West go on a 19-0 run that made it 27-20.
It was the first time since the 2004 NBA finals that the duo shared the court. O’Neal was traded to Miami that summer, breaking up a combination that won three straight titles.
“It felt like flashbacks,” O’Neal said during an interview on TNT. “It felt like ’99 to ’02. … It felt like old times. He was really looking for me.”
Both players were honors as the game’s MVPs. They shared a slight hug after the honor was announced, but then playfully fought over the trophy commissioner David Stern handed to them.
Aside from Kobe, Amare Stoudemire threw down 19 points for the West, while LeBron James led the East with 20 points. Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade each scored 18.
This year marked O’Neal’s return to All-Star Weekend, when he missed last year after 14 straight appearances.
In addition to displaying his post skills, O’Neal also showed off his dancing skills, when he got down with hip-hop dance group, the Jabbawockeez, during player introductions. Wearing one of their white masks, Big Shaq Daddy joined in on the group’s dance routine, before taking the court.
“Kobe is the best player in the league. So A-plus on that side. And A-plus for being a great guy. He even let me take the trophy home for my boys,” Shaq said.