Taking a glimpse at Shaquille O’Neal’s numbers during the 2000 NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers quite honestly leaves me flummoxed. During the six-game series, Shaq averaged 38 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, totally terrorizing Indiana’s frontline of Rik Smits, Austin Croshere and Dale Davis en-route to his first NBA championship.
Shaq, who put on a virtuosic 43 point, 19 rebound, 4 assist, 3 block performance in Game 1 of the Finals, followed up on this absurdity by having a brilliant 40 point, 24 rebound, 4 assist, 3 block showing in Game 2. O’Neal crushed the Pacers with a bevy of moves, including thunderous jams, delicate left-handed and right-handed jump-hooks, and monstrous rejections as he guided Los Angeles to a 111-104 victory and 2-0 series lead. Let’s take a look at The Big Aristotle getting busy on the Pacers:
Shaq’s mastery was much-needed in Game 2, as guard Kobe Bryant sat out all but nine minutes of the contest due to a severely sprained ankle. O’Neal would go on to power the Lakers to their first NBA championship since 1988, as he dropped 41 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks on Indiana in the series finale. The Finals victory over the Pacers was one of three straight championship triumphs for O’Neal and the Lakers, but they’d eventually divorce due to well-documented differences between Kobe and Shaq.
It’s important to pay homage to Shaquille O’Neal, who is one of, if not the most dominant player of all-time. What impresses me about Shaq’s game the most? Probably a combination of his fantastic footwork, surprising agility and his reliable hands. If you plan to be a dominant post presence at any level of basketball, possessing one of these three traits is essential. Shaq was endowed with all three, and he went on to become one of the greatest this game has ever seen. Studying Shaq has always been a pleasure for me, and I am happy to say that some of his finest moments came in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.