Widely regarded as one of the most dominating players in all of sports history, the physical presence of Shaquille O’Neal on the basketball court will forever be unmatched. At 7’2” and 320 lbs., the NBA had never seen a player of that size be as skilled as he was. His legend began at LSU when he became a household name for his historic performance during the first round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
The number one pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Shaq was dominant from the outset. He transformed the Magic from a perennial doormat to Eastern Conference champions in a few short years. However Shaq decided in 1996 to take his talents to the west coast and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers
The 1999-00 season was the Lakers’ first with Phil Jackson, who left the Chicago Bulls along with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen after the Bulls’ last NBA title win in 1998. Shaq along with a young Kobe Bryant looked to restore the legacy of Lakers’ basketball which is winning titles in Tinseltown.
Shaquille O’Neal, Lakers Cruise to NBA Title
Shaquille O’Neal dominated the 1999-00 season. There wasn’t a center on the planet that could stop him one on one. He was too powerful in the paint for even the most talented big men. Often double teamed and sometimes tripled, Shaq would still find a way to dunk the ball or put up a hook shot near the basket. He was also a nimble big man, had a decent handle for a 7 footer and would occasionally lead a fast break, which was surely a highlight that got the Lakers’ fans excited.
During that season, Shaq averaged 29.7 ppg and 13.6 rpg. His field goal percentage was 57.4, among the best in the league. He led the Lakers to a 67-15 record, their best since 1989-90. The Lakers stomped through the playoffs and defeated the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals with a 4-2 series win. It was the Lakers 12th NBA title in franchise history and their first in 12 years. Shaq would secure the NBA Finals MVP, the first of three consecutive he would win.
Shaq had some monster games in the regular season. He had:
- 63 double doubles
- 39 games with 30 or more points
- 10 games of at least 20 points and 20 rebounds
- 5 games with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds
Shaq would win the NBA MVP that year, as well as earn 1st Team All-NBA, All-Star selection and All-Defensive First Team. Add on the NBA title and Finals MVP and this was definitely a sensation season for the big man!
Shaq’s Birthday Behavior
On March 6, 2000, Shaq turned in his best performance of the season. It was his 28th birthday and he showed out for the Lakers crowd. He scored a career high 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in a 123-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Shaq hit 24 of 35 shots from the field and went 13-22 from the line. His entire arsenal was on display and there was little the Clippers could do about it on that special night.