The Los Angeles Lakers hadn’t won an NBA Championship in 12 years. With their last being in 1988. Superstar Shaquille O’Neal and a 21-year-old Kobe Bryant found themselves in the NBA Finals against Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers.
We fast-forward to game 4 of the series. The Lakers are leading 2-1. Both teams battled back-and-forth. The Pacers looking to level the series on their home court, and the Lakers seeking to extend their series lead.
Bryant missed game 3 due to a sprained ankle in the previous game. Even though he was not 100 percent, he returned for game 4. He certainly left his mark on this one too. Even though his ankle was heavily taped and required ice throughout the game.
Bryant’s Overtime Heroics:
The end of regulation ended 104-104, with both teams tied and overtime looming. Here comes the story of the game. Shaquille O’Neal fouled out with approximately 2 minutes left in the contest. A close contest.
Up stepped his 21-year-old teammate, who hit some huge clutch shots to round-out the game and single-handedly claim the win. Coach Phil Jackson allowed Bryant to run three isolation players in a row. He scored all on all three.
The Lakers outscored the Pacers 16-14 in overtime to take a commanding lead on the series.
O’Neal fouled out with 36 points, whilst Bryant finished with 28 points, on 14-27 shooting. For Bryant, it was one of the most clutch performances in NBA Finals history. The Pacers’ Reggie Miller recorded 35 points in 50 minutes played.
Miller and the Pacers won the next game before the Lakers ended the series 4-2 to win the 2000 NBA Championship. The first ring of Kobe Bryant’s career and the first in a three-peat for the purple and gold.
Watch a breakdown video of the contest below. Courtesy of Lakers UK.