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Mark Jackson Says The Indiana Pacers Should Have Beat Shaq And Kobe Lakers In 2000 Finals

Mark Jackson Says The Indiana Pacers Should Have Beat Shaq And Kobe Lakers In 2000 Finals

The year is 2000. With Michael Jordan having retired for the second time, the Bulls were no longer a threat, and NBA was wide-open, just waiting for the next dynasty to surface.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers would answer that call.

Shaquille O'Neal, who had been joined the Purple and Gold a few years earlier, was at the peak of his powers, dominating the game in ways nobody had ever seen before.

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant finally grew into his own, becoming an unstoppable multi-faceted scorer and the perfect partner to O'Neal.

At this time, the world would not yet know what would follow over the next few years -- but when the Lakers entered the 2000 NBA Finals, everybody knew it was the start of something special.

Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, who stood between the Lakers and their first Championship in the Kobe/Shaq era, they fell victim to the powers of the superpowered duo and lost in 6 games during the only Finals appearance the franchise has ever had.

Looking back, however, former NBA All-Star Mark Jackson says his team should have won that series. And, that had it not been for Kobe Bean Bryant, they might have actually pulled it off.

"We should’ve won. We won Game 3 and we lost Game 4 in OT. Shaq fouled out and the late great Kobe Bryant singlehandedly takes over the game in the fourth quarter and overtime. We did everything we could. I remember saying to Reggie Miller because he hit a couple shots, 'let me get him.' I'm just foolish thinking I could do something. But I'm not thinking I'm gonna stop him, I'm thinking I'm gonna hammer him one good time and send a message and get him out of his rhythm.

I hammer him, nice. Basket, and-one, he's at the line. I'm like 'Reggie, you got him, it ain't working.' But we were good enough because we had the depth at the power forward position, we had a center that was a weapon that could take advantage of Shaquille O'Neal's flaws. So we were a perfect matchup..."

That Pacers team often gets overlooked in the history books, but they deserve some recognition.

Led by Reggie Miller, Jalen Rose, and Rik Smits, they won 56 games in the regular season, moving on to defeat the Bucks, Sixers, and Knicks in the East playoff bracket.

Well-rounded and brimming with talent, it's not crazy to think that they stood a chance against the Lakers.

But, as he did throughout his entire career, Kobe Bryant denied them the chance at making history.