On his 28th birthday in 2000, Shaquille O'Neal had a game for the history books.
In the midst of his lone MVP season in the league, the 7'1" center was up against the Lakers' local rivals in the Los Angeles Clippers. While O'Neal had plans for his birthday party in mind, nine minutes into the game, the Clippers were up by nine points (27-18).
That's when he took over. Over the next three quarters, O'Neal scored 51 points to the Clippers' 74 to finish with a career-high 61 points on 24of-35 from the field.
Watch the game below:
Playing 45 of a possible 48 minutes, he also recorded 23 rebounds and three assists in a comfortable 123-103 victory.
This would end up going down as one of the greatest regular-season, single-game performances of his career. Many years later, O'Neal shared an anecdote about that historic game:
The 1999-2000 season is arguably Shaq's greatest individual season. He was named MVP for the first and only time in his career with averages of 29.7 points (career-high), 13.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists (career-high) on 57.2% shooting. Prior to that, he was also named the All-Star Game MVP.
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The season ended with O'Neal winning his first (of four) NBA Championships. He was named Finals MVP with averages of 38.0 points, 16.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 assists on 61.1% shooting as he led the Lakers past the Indiana Pacers in six games.
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