No team in the NBA has the legacy of big men like the Los Angeles Lakers. From George Mikan to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Pau Gasol, the Lakers always have someone great to man the middle.
Perhaps no center, in Lakers or NBA history, was more dominant than Shaquille O’Neal.
The 2000 season was possibly O’Neal’s finest. He would win his only regular season MVP of his career, and lead the Lakers to their first of three straight championships. He would also celebrate his 28th birthday in style.
On March 6, the Lakers would take on the Los Angeles Clippers, who were far from being considered their rivals at the time. O’Neal would assert his dominance by making 24 of his 35 shots, for a career high 61 points and 23 rebounds in the Lakers 123-103 victory.
This game and season was an example of O’Neal at his peak. When he got going, there was no person or team who could stop him. With his size, speed, and skill, O’Neal could score at will on any number of defenders.
The fact that the game would come on his birthday makes it that much more special. You always want to play better on your birthday and O’Neal was able to have one of the best games of his career. This also remains the most points that any player has scored on his birthday.
Scoring 60 points in a game is not something that happens regularly. The list of people to reach that number includes a who’s who of NBA legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, George Gervin, and Jerry West.
On March 6, 2000, O’Neal put himself among those legends, and this week, Lakers Nation remembers him for his amazing performance.
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