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“Shaq was like Wilt Chamberlain against us, getting 40 and 20 and making his free throws!”: Jalen Rose reminds NBA fans of The Big Aristotle’s most Dominant NBA Finals series – Lakers vs Pacers 2000

Amulya Shekhar
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"Shaq was like Wilt Chamberlain against us, getting 40 and 20 and making his free throws!": Jalen Rose reminds NBA fans of The Big Aristotle's most Dominant NBA Finals series - Lakers vs Pacers 2000

Jalen Rose took NBA fans on a trip down memory lane on the latest All the Smoke pod, narrating how Shaq felt like Wilt Chamberlain in the paint.

Very, very few fans of the NBA today have seen Shaq as anytihng more than a caricature on TNT. This is one of the goofiest, most fun-loving characters ever to grace the league. And Shaq has carried that charisma and larger-than-life persona into his ‘Inside the NBA’ analyst role.

But really, when old-timers talk about Shaq, they’re talking about the big old Superman. You know, the man who gave himself a nickname every other year just because he could. Diesel is perhaps the one that fits best.

Watching Shaq in action on an NBA court is the closest we’ll ever come to seeing boys against men. Shaq weighed 325 pounds when he was drafted by the Orlando Magic. But he was well over that mark when he was under the tutelage of the Zen Master Phil Jackson.

Phil had determined that in order for O’Neal to be durable during the playoffs, he had to start the season off with a higher weight and then play himself into shape. That’s exactly the strategy Shaq took for the last 4 years of his Lakers tenure.

But there was one year when Shaq was spectacular from wire to wire, and that was 1999-2000. He’d had several MVP-caliber campaigns till that point, but the Lakers weren’t a dominant team.

In 99-00, Shaq missed being awarded the first unanimous MVP trophy by a solitary point. He was truly that good during the whole of the regular season. And what’s more, he elevated himself to a whole another level during the playoffs and the Finals.

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Jalen Rose recounts some memories of Shaq from the 2000 NBA Finals

Jalen Rose was on the Pacers team that faced Shaq’s Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals. Up until that point, the Lakers had had some really close playoff series. But Shaq had leveled his game up during the playoffs. He took it one step further during those Finals.

Rose described the experience of playing against Shaq that year in the following fashion:

“Shaq (was) a monster! It was different then, because in Orlando, it was the younger and more athletic Shaq. And then during his Lakers career, people got to see the powerful, right-in-front-of-the-rim Shaq.”

“But in 2000, he was playing D on pick-and-rolls still, and blocking shots. And he was like Wilt against us, he was getting 40/20 and he was making his free throws.”

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Shaq finished the 2000 NBA Finals with perhaps the most dominant Finals statline ever by a center. 38 points and 16.7 rebounds a game with 2.7 blocks and 1 steal? That is indeed the greatest Finals performance since Michael Jordan retired from the game.

About the author

Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar

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Amulya Shekhar is a sports junkie who thrives on the thrills and frills of live sports action across basketball, football (the American variant works too), parkour, adventure sports. He believes sports connect us to our best selves, and he hopes to help people experience sports more holistically.

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