Back during the early 2000s championship runs of the Los Angeles Lakers, everything, rightfully so, revolved around Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. The two were obviously the stars to lead the franchise, but the Lakers also intelligently surrounded them with excellent role players.
The likes of Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Brian Shaw, and Derek Fisher all played huge roles in the Lakers’ three-peat, but one unsung player who doesn’t get mentioned nearly as much is Ron Harper.
The Lakers brought in Harper before the 1999-2000 season as a veteran who had plenty of experience with Phil Jackson’s triangle offense from his time with the Chicago Bulls. At this point Harper was at the end of his career, but he still had moments where he proved his importance and one of those came on Dec. 27, 1999.
The Lakers squared off with the Dallas Mavericks, featuring their own young core of Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, and Steve Nash who were just beginning to grow together.
Nash missed this particular contest, but Dirk torched the Lakers for 30 points and Finley added 24 and eight assists to match the Lakers more popular duo. Shaq had 35 points and 14 rebounds while Kobe added 25 himself.
But the Lakers needed something more to get over the hump, and Harper provided just that. The veteran hit eight of his nine shots to finish with 17 points, adding six rebounds, four assists, and two steals as the Lakers edged out a 108-106 victory over the Mavericks.
Harper was not brought in to be a scorer for the Lakers as he averaged just 6.8 points in his two seasons in Los Angeles. But his veteran presence and knowledge of the triangle helped the team begin a dynasty and every so often he could come up with games like this right when the Lakers needed it.
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