As the last squad to accomplish a 3-peat, the 2000 L.A. Lakers have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams of All-Time. But even they faced a number of challenges in their day.
In an interview with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, Shaq and Horry revealed the toughest of these challenges.
“It’s probably the best team I’ve ever faced playing basketball, period,” says Robert Horry, who won seven championships in his 16-year career, including three with the Lakers.
“They were the toughest team,” Shaq says, “and they were the only team that wasn’t scared of us.”
The 2000 Western Conference Finals was a hard-fought series that went seven games. The Blazers couldn't overcome the Lakers in the end, but they were a really good team back then -- with a roster composed of Pippen, Sabonis, Steve Smith, and Rasheed Wallace. Portland won 59 games that season.
As for L.A., Shaq's play was a big reason why they got the upper-hand. He averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game on 58% shooting. This play continued for years, resulting in the Lakers winning three-straight Championships.
Who would they go on to face in future matchups? Philadelphia in 2001, the Nets in 2002, and the Indiana Pacers in the very next series -- just to name a few. It's got to be worth something for Portland knowing they made such an impression on that team.