Shaquille O’Neal is arguably the most dominant force in the history of the NBA. He won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and the franchise has honored him with both a jersey retirement and a statue outside of Staples Center.
Shaq has created plenty of memories at Staples Center, and one of his greatest came on March 6, 2000, when he celebrated his 28th birthday. The Lakers were technically the road team facing the Los Angeles Clippers, but O’Neal made sure they knew it was his home.
Agitated and motivated by the fact the Clippers hassled him over tickets, O’Neal went out and scored a career-high 61 points to go along with 23 rebounds as the Lakers dominated the Clippers, 123-103.
Shaq was absolutely unstoppable on this night, making 24 of 35 shots and even knocking down 13 of 22 from the line. Kobe Bryant added 22 points and five assists, and Glen Rice scored 16 points, but the game was all about the birthday boy.
In a recent interview with Spectrum SportsNet, O’Neal recalled the performance and motivation behind it:
On this day in 2000, the Clippers charged @SHAQ for tickets to his own game…and he took that personally.
Happy Birthday, Big Fella! 🥳 #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/f4PtJKjrLN
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 6, 2022
This was Shaq in his absolute prime when there was not a person on the planet who could come close to stopping him. He won the MVP going away that season in what should have been the first unanimous MVP ever.
Shaq had the Clippers big men in all kinds of foul trouble. Michael Olowakandi, Maurice Taylor, and Lamar Odom all had five fouls while Pete Chilcutt fouled out completely in less than 20 minutes.
It is always great to look back and remember the Laker greats at their absolute best and that was Shaq on this night. It just so happened that the Clippers had the unfortunate honor of being the victims, but it could have been any team in the NBA and the result would have been the same.
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