On June 8th in 2001, Shaquille O'Neal stuffed the stat sheet and nearly registered the only quadruple-double in NBA Finals history as he led the Lakers to a 98-89 Game 2 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Playing 45:16 minutes, the 7-foot center finished the game with 28 points (12-19 FGs), 20 rebounds, nine assists, eight blocks, and a game-high +14.
His eight blocked shots tied a then NBA Finals record which was jointly held by the Hall of Fame trio of Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. This was after O'Neal had failed to record a single block in Game 1 a couple of days earlier.
Eight years later, this record was broken by Dwight Howard when he swatted away nine shots in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals.
On the back of Shaq's dominant performance and Kobe Bryant's game-high 31 points, the Lakers rebounded from an upset loss in Game 1 - their only loss of the 2001 postseason.
Although O'Neal's monster game propelled the Lakers, another reason for their victory was Allen Iverson's rough game. After spearheading the 76ers to the Game 1 win with 48 points, Iverson only had 23 on 10-of-29 shooting from the field.
After that shock loss in Game 1, the Lakers never let go of the control on the series. They followed up the Game 2 victory with three more and clinched the 2001 championship in five games. It was the franchise's second consecutive championship and the 13th overall.
The Lakers finished the 2001 postseason with a 15-1 record - then the best winning percentage in the playoffs before it was bettered by the 2017 Golden State Warriors.
O'Neal was named 2001 Finals MVP - his second consecutive - for averages of 33.0 points, 15.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.4 blocks on 57.3% shooting from the field across the five games.
Other notable events on June 8th
- In 1979, the New Orleans Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, becoming the Utah Jazz.
- In 1984, Larry Bird scored 34 points on 15-of-20 shooting from the field and led the Celtics to a 121-103 Game 5 win in the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers as the courtside temperature registered 98 degrees. "I love to play in the heat" said Bird. "I just run faster and create my own wind."
- In 1999, Karl Malone was voted to an NBA record 11th All-NBA First Team. Tied for second-most all-time with Kobe Bryant, Malone was passed later by LeBron James, who has 12 All-NBA First Team selections to his name.
- In 2004, Kobe Bryant hit a game-tying 3-pointer with only 2.1 seconds left on the game clock in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons. The shot forced overtime and the Lakers went on to win Game 2 99-91 - their only win of that championship series.
NBA Championships clinched on June 8th
- In 2018, Golden State Warriors won Game 4 of the NBA Finals 108-85 behind Stephen Curry's 37 points to record the ninth sweep in NBA Finals history. Thus, clinching the franchise's sixth championship overall and the third in the previous four years.
- In 1986, Boston Celtics won Game 6 of the Finals 114-97 against the Houston Rockets and clinched the 1986 championship - the franchise's 16th title. Playing 46 minutes, Larry Bird finished with a triple-double of 29 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds as five other Celtic players finished in double figures. Bird was named Finals MVP for the second time in his career.
- In 1982, Los Angeles Lakers won Game 6 of the Finals 114-104 against the Philadelphia 76ers and clinched the championship. Jamaal Wilkes scored a team-high 27 points while Magic Johnson finished with a triple-double of 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists. It was the Lakers' eighth title overall and the second in the previous three years.
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