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On this day in NBA Finals history: Shaquille O’Neal drops a near quadruple-double

Shaq went off in Game 2 of the 2001 Finals with 28 points, 20 rebounds, 9 assists and 8 blocks


Before Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson challenged Shaquille O’Neal to man up on the defensive end of the floor.

“Don’t be afraid to block a shot!” Jackson hissed at his 7-foot-1, 340-pound center, who failed to record a single block in Los Angeles’ 107-101 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1.

The big fella must’ve taken his coach’s words to heart because, boy, did he respond. O’Neal swatted eight shots in his team’s 98-89 Game 2 win, tying a then-24-year-old record for most blocked shots in a Finals game, which Bill Walton set in 1977 and Hakeem Olajuwon (1986), Patrick Ewing (1994) and Tim Duncan (2003) matched. Dwight Howard eventually broke the record in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals with nine blocks.

O’Neal, however, was much more than a defensive force that night. He was a jack-of-all-trades against the 76ers, making his stat line from Game 2 a sight to behold: 28 points (on 12-for-19 shooting from the floor), 20 rebounds, 9 assists and 8 blocks. O’Neal didn’t even get the triple-double, but he fell a single assist and two blocks shy of the unicorn of NBA statistics, the quadruple-double.

Only four players in NBA history have recorded a quadruple-double, the last of which was 23 years ago:

  • Oct. 18, 1974: Nate Thurmond, Chicago Bulls — 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, 12 blocks
  • Feb. 18, 1986: Alvin Robertson, San Antonio Spurs — 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals
  • March 29, 1990: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets — 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks
  • Feb. 17, 1994: David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs — 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocks

O’Neal nearly played his way into history on June 8, 2001, in what would’ve been the first and only quadruple-double in NBA postseason history. It’s probably safe to say that if he had achieved the feat, O’Neal would’ve added “The Big Quadruple” to his arsenal of nicknames.

Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at Andscape. He primarily writes on sneakers/apparel and hosts the platform’s Sneaker Box video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the “Flint” Air Jordan 9s sparked his passion for kicks.