Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Game Score: 30.55
Shaquille O’Neal’s run from 2000-2002 was truly extraordinary. In that span, he had three of the six best Finals over the last 25 years. Over the three-year span, he averaged 35.9 points, 15.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, shooting .595 from the field on the game’s highest stage.
Of those three years, his 2000 Finals was the best of all and arguably the greatest Finals appearance in the history of the league. It marked the only time in the last 25 years that a player had at least 100 rebounds and 200 points in a series, and he did it in only six games.
O’Neal scored over 30 points in every game and over 40 in three of them. He also reached double digits in rebounds in every game.
In Game 1, he had a monster 43-point, 19-rebound game.
In Game 2, he had a monster 40-point, 24-rebound game.
In the decisive Game 6, he had a 41-point, 12-rebound game.
By comparison, Kobe Bryant has had only one 40-point Finals Game in his career, which came in 2009.
Over the same three year span, he averaged 22.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, which rank 25th, 46th and 138th, respectively, in the last 25 years.
Those numbers are very respectable, even brilliant as far as “Robin” numbers go, but they are decisively “Robin” numbers. It is not a slight to Kobe Bryant to say that the first three rings were more a result of Shaq than Kobe. They weren’t equally responsible, and Bryant was not more responsible.
O’Neal had one of the greatest three-year runs in NBA history. It’s not taking anything away from Bryant to acknowledge that. To say that Bryant was just as responsible, though, would be to take something away from O’Neal.