Today on NBA Tuesday, we look at one of the most crooked seasons in recent professional basketball history: You remember why, hopefully. The Indiana Pacers had clinched a Finals berth, and the Portland Trail Blazers were ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of Western Conference Finals by 13 points entering the final quarter. The rest is history, sadly … crooked NBA history.
2000 NBA FINALS MVP: Shaquille O’Neal, C, Los Angeles (original, confirmed)
At the time, we shocked our coworkers in the tech industry by accurately predicting the Finals would go WWLWLW for the Lakers, to maximize TV ratings and revenue. That’s how easy it was. But we digress: Indiana actually outscored L.A. in this series by 1.9 ppg! Ball-hog Kobe Bryant laughably shot just 36.7 percent from the floor, while Shaquille O’Neal won MVP honors (38.0 ppg). Remember this, too.
Shaq added 16.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg, and 2.3 apg in 45.7 mpg. This was the Diesel at his best, committing a textbook offensive foul pretty much every time he touched the ball down low—but never getting called for it. But his domination of this Lakers squad is unreal: No one else scored more than 15.6 ppg in the Finals; no one else grabbed more than 5.2 rpg; no one else played more than 35.2 mpg.
Basically, it was a bunch of Lakers all just standing around watching Shaq play ball, and then they picked up some scraps he left behind to get some action themselves—often not so successfully. While the Diesel was hitting 61 percent of his shots, the rest of the team was hitting just 42 percent of their ops. We readily confirm his Finals MVP win here and remind everyone that Kobe was a mediocre caddy.
2000 NBA DPOY: Alonzo Mourning, C, Miami (original); Chris Webber, PF, Sacramento (revised)
With some normalcy, we have six candidates here: O’Neal (6.99 DWS), San Antonio Spurs C David Robinson (6.43), Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (6.37), Miami Heat C Alonzo Mourning (5.63), Minnesota Timberwolves PF Kevin Garnett (5.55), and Sacramento Kings PF Chris Webber (5.01). Mourning won the vote, and the two San Antonio teammates cancel each other out.
So who gets our trophy? It’s Webber, whose team qualified for the postseason by just 4 wins, while the other teams all cruised into the playoffs with at least 50 victories—six more than Sacramento earned. Webber barely qualified for our finalist list, and he didn’t even finish in the Top 10 for voting. But that’s why we’re here: to correct the errors of the sporting past.
C-Webb’s stats: 8.0 defensive rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.6 steals per game, which led to 4.6 assists per outing as well. The Kings nabbed the last playoff berth in the Western Conference, despite coughing up 102 points per game—worst among all postseason qualifiers. Imagine where’d they have been without Webber’s dirty work down low.