words // Brandon Richard
Today, four-time NBA champion, 15-time All-Star, sheriff, doctor, analyst and future Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal celebrates his 41st birthday. Paying tribute to one of the game's largest personalities, we're taking a look back at one of his all-time great performances — a dominant 41-point outing to close out the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the 2000 NBA Finals.
Double teams. Triple teams. Quadruple teams. Why do we refer to Shaq as the Most Dominant Ever? This game serves as a perfect example. The Pacers threw a combination of Dale Davis, Rik Smits, Austin Croshere and Sam Perkins at Shaq, but ultimately had no answers. Play after play, Shaq established deep low post position and picked apart Indiana's front line with drop steps, turnarounds and hooks. When the Lakers trailed after three quarters, it was Shaq's energy and play that led them back. LA pulled ahead mid-fourth quarter and never looked back. Shaq's 41 and Kobe's 26 clinched the first of three-straight titles won by the duo.
Shaq's numbers for the 2000 NBA Finals? An absurd 38 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1 steal and 2.7 blocks per game. No surprise that he took home Finals MVP honors.
What kicks did he lace up for this historic run? After ending an six-year relationship with Reebok in 1998 and linking up with Reebok for a value line a year later, Shaq commissioned Dunk.net, a somewhat ahead of its time footwear and apparel company that exclusively sold products online. Dunk.net launched in February 2000 with the Chromz, a Dallas Stokes-designed hoop shoe with a name inspired by Shaq's decision to also jump into the rim business. Chromz were made available in Black/Purple and White/Black, the latter worn by O'Neal in the 2000 closeout game.
Unfortunately, the world wasn't quite ready for online exclusive sneaker shopping at the time and Dunk.net shut down shortly after. Due to Shaq's 99-00 MVP campaign, Chromz are still a big part of NBA history, though.
Check out highlights from 2000's Game 6 above and a few photos rom the game below. Happy Birthday, Shaq!