The Los Angeles Lakers were barely bursting onto the scene entering the 2000s, as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal began to gain the chemistry on the court that would later lead to three NBA championships. While the Lakers were a sight to see during each road game throughout the regular season, there was no better stage outside of Staples Center than the All-Star Game.
Bryant and O’Neal would go up against the other elite players in the NBA and put on a competitive show for the fans, alternating locations with each season. On Feb. 13, 2000, the ‘Big Diesel’ put on a spectacular performance in front of the fans at the Oakland Arena.
The 2000 NBA All-Star Game, which was coached by Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, turned out to be a prime example of the transfer of generations that goes on between different ages of basketball.
The starting lineup for the West featured Bryant, O’Neal, Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. At the same time, it seemed like generational greats Karl Malone, David Robinson, Gary Payton and John Stockton would play sparingly off the bench.
On the other hand, the East team was led by starters Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Alonzo Mourning, Eddie Jones, and Grant Hill.
The Western Conference All-Stars had a 64-59 lead at halftime, thanks in part to spectacular play from their frontcourt. A three-man crew of O’Neal, Duncan and Garnett presented quite the challenge for Mourning, Hill, and Jones.
The pace and shots made went up as the pressure increased during the second half. After outscoring the West by three points, the East was able to shrink their deficit down to two going into the fourth quarter. Iverson, who would finish with 26 points and nine assists, turned out to be the catalyst for their comeback efforts.
O’Neal did his fair share to enlighten the crowd, including a full-court dribble that ended in a semi euro-step finger-roll. He was also able to throw down his typical ferocious dunks, hammers that Mourning and Mutombo were on the receiving end of. When the game was all over, Duncan, Garnett, and O’Neal combined for 70 points and 33 rebounds.
In a game that featured many poster dunks and shot blockers waiting at the rim, the fans watching around the world sure did get their money’s worth. Kidd, who finished with 14 assists, threw a series of lobs to Bryant and O’Neal during their breakaway possessions.
The East put together many runs during the fourth quarter, but the West was able to hold off for the 137-126 victory. Former NBA commissioner David Stern presented the All-Star Game MVP to both O’Neal and Duncan, a pair of big men who would finish their careers with a combined nine rings.
O’Neal put up 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Duncan concluded the game with 24 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
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