When a basketball player elevates to unthinkable heights and doesn’t come down until he brings the thunder to the rim above, we can’t help but get goosebumps. While dunking is currently more prevalent than ever, that doesn’t change the fact that this action has the ability to drastically swing the momentum in a game. And in some cases, it’s actually the final nail in the coffin.
During our last go around, we showed you how John Stars skied over the Chicago Bulls, creating a lasting image — and poster — that still holds weight in today’s basketball world. It was a beautiful individual effort that essentially clinched the game for the New York Knicks. This time, we’re going to travel out West, to a game when two future Hall of Famers crafted the perfect Hollywood ending.
Their feud may have been legendary, but it was nothing compared to their undeniable chemistry on the court. For a brief moment in time, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant took the Los Angeles Lakers to the top of the NBA mountain. It was this alley-oop that set the ball in motion. And nothing says “Throwback Throwdowns” quite like that. Enjoy.
During Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves on the verge of being sent packing. Not only had they blown a 3-1 series lead to the Portland Trail Blazers, but here they were, down 16 points in a must-win game, with less than a quarter to play. Not exactly how Phil Jackson envisioned his first season on the bench in Tinseltown to end.
After all, for a team that went 67-15 during the regular season, this would’ve been a crushing way to go out. We’re not sure the Lakers faithful at the Staples Center could’ve handled watching such a devastating collapse. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to.
In a ferocious run unlike any the National Basketball Association had ever seen, the Lakers stormed back to tie the game at 77 with a little under three minutes left to play. Of course, even a comeback such as this needs a defining moment. Leave it to the dynamic duo of Shaq and Bryant to make it happen.
With under 45 seconds left to play, the crowd on their feet, and the Lakers clinging to an 83-79 lead, the Black Mamba crosses up Scottie Pippen and drives the lane looking to make a play. As Shaq slowly edges his way to the basket, he signals for the lob, Bryant tosses it up for the big fella, who grabs it with one hand and stuffs it with authority. And just like that, insanity takes over the Staples Center.
Shaq runs back down the floor, his mouth open and fingers pointed to the stands. The clock hasn’t run out, but the game is over. The Lakers know it. The roaring crowd knows it. Anyone watching it at home knows it. The moment was absolutely electrifying. It was a throwdown to remember.
All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.