When you see the name Shaquille O’Neal so many things come to mind. There are so many words to describe him and his game which include dominant, champion and Hall-of-Famer. He stuffed the stat sheet, held down the paint and led his team to multiple championships. Although we’ve seen Shaq in multiple jerseys, he will forever be remembered as a Los Angeles Laker.
He left his mark wherever he went and the Staples Center is one of the places that holds Shaq’s legacy. Tonight his statue will be revealed outside of Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles prior to the game. For all that he has done in a Lakers uniform, this display of honor is well deserved. He has left Lakers nation with so many memories including a trio of championships. To commemorate his statue revealing tonight, I would like to give a few of my favorite Shaquille O’Neal moments in a purple and gold uniform.
June 8, 2001 -Game 2 NBA Finals vs. the Philadelphia 76ers
Shaquille O’Neal had one of the best all-around performances of his career. After taking a tough loss on their home court in game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers bounced back to tie up the series. It was led by none other than the Diesel himself who had 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists and 8 blocks. We were accustomed to watching him dominant in specific areas but never a game where he put it all together like this one. Shaq took over and set the tone for the game and the rest of the series as the Lakers ended up winning their second straight championship over the 76ers.
March 6, 2000 – Shaq’s birthday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
Shaq turned 28 on this day and the Los Angeles Clippers were his unlucky victims. He came to play and it turned out to be a great one as O’Neal dropped 61 points and grabbed 23 rebounds. It was a career high for the dominant center who was efficient from the floor shooting 68.6% from the field.
June 4, 2000 – The Alley Oop vs. the Portland Trail Blazers
This one lob from Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal is one of the best Lakers moments in NBA history. It’s a moment that I know every Lakers fan will remember for years to come. The Portland Trail Blazers were giving Los Angeles a tough battle in this series. The Lakers took a 3-1 lead but Portland fought back to tie it up and everything was up for grabs in game 7. Los Angeles was down as much as 15 but they managed to make their way back ultimately taking the lead and winning the game. But the big moment came with about 40 seconds left in the game with the crossover from Kobe, leading to an alley-oop to Shaq which ultimately sealed the game. The crossover, the pass, the dunk, the celebration and the roar from the crowd all made it one of the most iconic moments in NBA history.