Kobe Bryant's recent comments about his former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal, and Shaq's response, kickstarted a debate on Thursday's episode of ESPN's "First Take," as the hosts discussed which player they'd rather have in their prime.

During the debate, Stephen A. Smith explained why he'd rather have Kobe, saying that the Hall of Fame center needed a guard to get him the ball.

“I am always partial to guards because centers need help,” Smith said. “If you’re Shaq, you needed Kobe or somebody else to get you the basketball.. When you’re a guard, you are more in a position to dictate the level of success that you ultimately accomplish for yourself.”

Additionally, Stephen A noted that the biggest reason he sides with Kobe over Shaq is because of The Diesel's woeful free throw percentage.

“But the biggest reason,” Smith added. “the biggest thing that I’ve held against Shaq more than anything is those free-throws.. From the free-throw line career-wise he was somewhat of a liability. You can’t say the same about Kobe Bryant.”

Check out Stephen A.'s full thoughts in the video embedded below.

The duo won three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat in 2004 as the tension between he and Kobe grew.

As we know, Shaq captured another title alongside Dwyane Wade, while Kobe added two more rings to his collection in 2009 and 2010. The two superstars have made it clear that there's no beef between them, which somehow led to Shaq taking an unexpected jab at current Lakers big man, Dwight Howard. Click here to check out Howard's response to that ricochet shot.