Richard Jefferson claims 2002 Lakers more dominant than 2017 Warriors

Richard Jefferson claims 2002 Lakers more dominant than 2017 Warriors

In his 18-year NBA career, Richard Jefferson faced some of the best teams in NBA history.

Jefferson was on the losing side of NBA Finals matchups against the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers in 2002, the Tim Duncan-David Robinson San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and the Steph Curry-Kevin Durant Warriors in 2017. All three of those squads are in the pantheon of all-time great teams, but to Jefferson one stands above the rest.

No, it's not the Curry-KD Warriors who steamrolled everyone in their path during the 2016-17 run to the title. To Jefferson, the 2001-02 Lakers are the most dominant team he has ever seen.

"Obviously the Spurs team was great with the Twin Towers David Robinson and Tim Duncan and the Warriors team with Kevin Durant," Jefferson said on ESPN's "The Jump." "Obviously, Shaq is the one person -- a lot of times when you watch the Golden State Warriors and you watch how they play that small-ball defense, they'll do what you call a triple switch. They'll switch Steph onto a bigger player and then when that player rolls into the post they will then switch out. They will switch Draymond or KD or Harrison Barnes, they would switch a bigger player onto that post player and then move Steph back outside.

"This is the issue with that. That amazing defense that worked so well because there aren't dominant post players now -- not nearly as much -- you weren't going to be able to do that. They were going to throw that ball into Shaq, he was going to catch it and dunk it and one thing that Shaq made you do, he made you carry two or three centers on your roster because you needed those big bodies, you needed those fouls because he was so dominant.

"So what does that do? That shortens your ability to play small ball because you have to carry two or three bigs on your roster. There isn't carry one, one-and-a-half. This [Mike D'Antoni] situation would have never worked. PJ Tucker would have quit before having to guard Shaq in a seven-game series.

"So, that's why to me that's the best team that I've ever played against, it's the best team that I've seen. Now, the '17 Warriors with Kevin Durant were very close but I still would have needed to something to tell me they would have had a game plan for Shaq."

Now, all that makes sense on its face, and we know O'Neal agrees. But Jefferson doesn't look at the other side of the issue. Would the Warriors have had trouble defending O'Neal? No question. Everyone did.

But O'Neal would have had to go out onto the perimeter on the other end and the Warriors would have pick-and-rolled the Lakers to death, as Draymond Green put it.

[RELATED: Why Steph-KD Warriors would have handled Shaq-Kobe Lakers]

Plus, the Lakers would have been at a severe disadvantage when it comes to the 3-point shot. Klay Thompson (41.4 percent), Curry (41.1) and Durant (37.5) would have had too much firepower for a Lakers team that lacked perimeter scoring outside of Bryant.

Jefferson saw first-hand what all of these teams can do, so it should carry some weight that he believes the 2002 Lakers are more dominant. But his rationale is thin and only takes into account one end of the court.

O'Neal would dominate the paint on one end and then get carved up on the other. It might take years before the Steph-KD Warriors get the universal respect they deserve. They eviscerated teams for the first two seasons and only injuries kept them from securing a three-peat.

It was a display of dominance that rarely has been seen in NBA history.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Warriors' Steph Curry praises Suns for starting lineup introductions

Warriors' Steph Curry praises Suns for starting lineup introductions

The Phoenix Suns entered Tuesday's matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers an undefeated 6-0 in their Orlando bubble NBA seeding games.

And they've been winning in matters outside the lines as well.

The latest example is how they announced their starting lineup against the 76ers. In fact, it was so awesome that even Warriors superstar Steph Curry felt compelled to let Phoenix's social media team know his feelings.

This truly is beyond spectacular.

Players, coaches and team personnel have been away from their families for a long time, and they miss their loved ones dearly.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Curry -- who is not in the bubble because the Warriors were not included in the 2019-20 season restart -- acknowledged how hard it must be for everyone in Orlando.

“If you say I get to play basketball, sleep and play golf on my off days, that’s not a bad setup,” he told The New York Times' Marc Stein on Sunday night. “From a day-to-day perspective, how you fill your time, I would have no problem adjusting to that.

"But you can’t take family out of the equation. I don’t think any of us have been away from our families for that long before.”

[RELATED: Trainer says Steph is 'as bouncy and energetic' as ever]

Well done, Suns. Bravo.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Trainer says Warriors' Steph Curry 'as bouncy and energetic' as ever

Trainer says Warriors' Steph Curry 'as bouncy and energetic' as ever

Steph Curry cannot wait to take the floor for an NBA game again. But with the start date for the 2020-21 season unclear at this point, the Warriors superstar knows he has to stay patient.

Unfortunately for the two-time NBA MVP, he has had to be extra patient for too long, as he was sidelined for over four months last season because of a broken left hand.

Steph misses competing and winning, and understands the window for doing that at the highest level won't be open for that much longer.

But at the same time, his personal trainer believes there are no reasons to be concerned that the three-time NBA champion is trending in the wrong direction.

“He’s a young 32,” Brandon Payne recently told The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. “He’s jumping really well, moving really well. He’s perpetually in great shape from a cardiovascular standpoint. He’s not showing any signs at all of any sort of aging. He’s moving well, he’s getting stronger.

"He’s as bouncy and energetic in workouts as he’s ever been.”

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Video proof of this sometimes will surface on social media in the form of Curry throwing down some dunks. They serve as a reminder that he is more athletic than people think.

But it's also important to remember Steph's legs are extra fresh right now. And part of that could be because he and Payne have been forced to adjust their offseason regimen.

“Normally we have a five-to-six-day workweek," Payned told Strauss. “This year, with the uncertainty of the timeline (of next season), we’re being very patient. We’re only going four days a week. With those four days, only two of those days are uptempo, high-intensity days.

"We just want to make sure everything we’re doing has a positive benefit to his game. We can’t have any empty drills. We don’t really want to have wasted running."

[RELATED: Report: Klay held workout with Steph while rehabbing ACL]

Steph acknowledged last month that the 2019-20 campaign "could be a blessing in disguise" for the Warriors. After five straight trips to the NBA Finals, everybody associated with the franchise needed a physical and mental break.

But it sure sounds like the No. 7 overall pick from the 2009 draft has caught his breath and is ready to go full steam ahead.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram