Shaq says Kobe has passed West, Magic

Published Jun. 17, 2010 1:00 a.m. ET

With Kobe Bryant one win away from his fifth NBA championship, he's earning praise from the NBA's greats — even one who used to be one of his biggest critics.

Shaquille O'Neal praised Bryant's growth on FOX Sports Radio's "Into the Night with Tony Bruno," defending his former Lakers teammate's reputation and saying he "has evolved as the greatest player in Lakers history."

"First of all, he is definitely a closer," O'Neal said Wednesday. "He has evolved as the greatest player in Lakers history, surpassing Magic Johnson and Jerry West. Especially if he wins this championship, you know, he probably will go down as the greatest Laker ever."

O'Neal also ripped critics who take shots at Bryant's place among the greats and his legacy.

"The guys who are making those comments or comparisons obviously can not play," O'Neal said. "The kid has 26,000 points, he passed up Jerry West already and is on his way to winning his fifth title. He doesn't need a signature closing move. It's all about winning championships."