As we reflect on the holiday season, and brace ourselves for a Christmas day matchup against the defending champions, let’s take a moment to look back at one of the more memorable Christmas games in Lakers history: the day Shaquille O’Neal returned to Los Angeles.
It was 2004, and only five months removed from the devastating break-up between the Shaq and Kobe team that had won three NBA championships in five years. Shaq had been traded to Miami in exchange for a multitude of players, and elevated the Heat to title contenders in the Eastern Conference because of his dominating presence.
As for Kobe and the Lakers, the franchise had gone in an entirely new direction after firing Phil Jackson and trading Shaquille O’Neal. They were in rebuild mode, with Kobe Bryant as the organizations cornerstone.
The first game that Shaq and Kobe would play against each other would be one the most anticipated games in Lakers history, simply because of the Kobe and Shaq fallout.
Prior to the opening tip, Shaq was greeted with cheers from the Laker crowd. A very classy move by Lakers fans, and Kobe showed his affirmation by standing a clapping for The Diesel when his name was announced.
However when the game started, Kobe became a stone-cold killer. He attacked the Heat on virtually every possession, and scored at will.
The game went down to the wire, and no moment excited Lakers fans more than when Shaq was disqualified from the game after Kobe drove in and forced him to commit his sixth foul.
The Lakers would lose to the Heat in overtime, but despite the loss, the match was everything that NBA Fans had hoped for.
Kobe finished the game with 42 points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Shaq finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and more importantly, a win.
Here are the highlights from the game.
Happy Holidays From The Lakers And Lakers Nation