Earlier this week, Sneaker Report mentioned that the build to the NBA Finals and the month of June often brings bad luck for the Indiana Pacers. Meanwhile, early June has been kind to a number of players throughout NBA history, most notably Shaquille O’Neal. In 2000, Shaq and Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to their first Finals appearance since 1991.
Kicking off the series against the Eastern Conference Champion Indiana Pacers, Shaq took over the same way he had been throughout the postseason. O’Neal finished Game 1 with 43 points and 19 rebounds, dominating in a way that few big men can. Over the course of the night, Shaq hit 21 field goals, which was just one shy of tying an NBA Finals record co-held by Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry. The Lakers finished with a 104-87 victory and ended up finishing off the Pacers in six games, earning their first NBA Championship since 1988. This was also Shaq’s first championship ring.
After a memorable run of signature sneakers with Reebok, O’Neal had found a new sponsorship by the time the 2000 Finals rolled around. He wore the Dunk.Net Chromz model, which was mostly notably for being available exclusively online (the site?… wait for it—Dunk.net). Although the sneaker itself wasn’t particularly memorable, the fact that Shaq won his first championship in them makes them noteworthy.