It was the year 2000. Everyone partied like it was 1999 – because it was – and then freaked out that the world might fall apart when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000. The whole Y2K thing eventually subsided as one Shaquille O’Neal was on his way to a 1999-2000 season in which he averaged 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocked shots per game.
It was also the year Shaq won ALL the MVPs. When we say all the MVPs…we mean ALL the MVPs!
The All-Star Game
O’Neal began his MVP collection with an outstanding performance in the 2000 All-Star Game. He shot 11-of-20 from the field and scored 22 points, added nine rebounds, and blocked three shots. He actually shared the MVP honors with teammate Tim Duncan, who scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds.
O’Neal and Duncan led the West to a 137-126 victory over the Eastern Conference. Legend has it that O’Neal took the MVP trophy from Duncan saying that he had already won an NBA championship ring.
Shaq’s championship ring was just ahead.
The Regular Season
The Lakers would go on to finish 67-15 marking the franchise’s most wins since the 1971-72 Lakers won 69 games. Los Angeles won the Pacific Division and was the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. It was the first time in nine years the Lakers had been the top seed in the postseason.
O’Neal came one vote shy of being the first unanimous NBA Most Valuable Player. Fred Hickman, a CNN broadcaster at the time, chose Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson over O’Neal. It was the first and only regular season MVP for O’Neal.
The NBA Finals
O’Neal scored 32 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a deciding Game 5 in the first round of the ’99-’00 playoffs. The Lakers then cruised to a 4-1 victory over Phoenix and needed seven games to beat Portland in the Western Conference Finals.
The Lakers would go on to beat Indiana 4-2 for the first of what would become a Los Angeles three-peat. O’Neal was the leading scorer in all six games with a high of 43 in Game 1. In the clinching Game 6, O’Neal scored 41 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to claim his first NBA Finals MVP and complete a season sweep of most valuable player awards.