The Lakers’ 1999-2000 season was one of the best in Shaquille O’Neal’s career. O’Neal posted career highs in points, rebounds, and assists on his way to winning his first and only NBA MVP. He would also lead the Lakers to their first championship since 1988 and capture his first of three NBA Finals MVPs.
One of the best moments of the season, however, came on March 6 when O’Neal was celebrating his 28th birthday. The Lakers would face the Los Angeles Clippers that night who, at the time, were not the fierce rivals we now know them as. Led by Maurice Taylor and future Laker Lamar Odom, these Clippers were one of the worst teams in the league.
O’Neal wanted to celebrate his birthday the right way, and he would do so against the overmatched Clippers. He would total a career high 61 points to go along with 23 rebounds and three assists in the Lakers 123-103 destruction of the Clippers.
O’Neal would hit 24 of his 35 shots and add 13 free throws in the game as nobody could match a determined O’Neal who apparently was extremely unhappy that he had to pay for a group of tickets on his birthday. The win was the would be the 16th consecutive win for the Lakers, their second streak of at least 16 wins in the season.
The game showed just how dominant O’Neal could be when he was focused and continues to be one of the greatest games of O’Neal’s career.
On this Throwback Thursday, we remember Shaquille O’Neal and his dominant 61 point effort to celebrate his 28th birthday in 2000.
If you’ve got some free time on your hands, relive this amazing game below:
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