On May 6, 2001, Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angles Lakers dominated against the Sacramento Kings, going off for 44 points and 21 rebounds in leading the Purple and Gold to a 108-105 Game 1 victory during the Western Conference semifinals.
Two nights later, in Game 2, he had 43 points and 20 rebounds, becoming only the second player in NBA history to have consecutive 40-point, 20-rebound playoff games. He had one more such game on June 6 in the Finals of the same season.
No one has had a postseason 40-20 game since.
Shaq was the most dominant player in the world at that time, and you can make the argument that he was at his absolute peak then, still possessing his physical dominance but adding to it the experience of a seasoned veteran. For those playoffs, he averaged 30.7 points and 15.4 rebounds while shooting 55.0 percent from the field. The Lakers went 15-1 during that run and won the NBA Finals.
As the league has evolved away from the low-post center being the focus of an offense, it’s possible Shaq was the last of the great conventional big men. The fact that the only other player to ever accomplish this feat is Wilt Chamberlain—who did it on March 16 and 18 in 1960—indicates just what kind of company he is in.
Kelly is a TBW co-Founder and frequent contributor. He spent 4.5 years in the USAF before attending University of Minnesota, Bible college in Anaheim and 15 years in youth ministry. Basketball blogger-turned-NBA Featured Columnist with Bleacher Report, BBallBreakdown, Fansided, The Step Back, Hoops Habit, SportsNet, Vantage Sports, Dime and FanRag, among others, his work has been read over 25 million times. The former NBA Assistant Editor at FanRag (2016-18), he is an NBA Twitter staple who is well-connected and respected among today’s finest basketball writers.