Greatest Finals performances: No. 9

Editor's note: We're ranking the best Finals performances since the NBA-ABA merger.


9. Shaquille O'Neal, L.A. Lakers, 2002

These Finals didn't exactly set hearts racing, not with the Lakers entering as an overwhelming favorite for a third straight title before cruising to a four-game sweep.

Still, what O'Neal accomplished was noteworthy. Those Nets weren't much to look at offensively, but they made the Finals with an elite defensive squad. Yet O'Neal obliterated them in the four games, earning a whopping 17 free-throw attempts per contest while averaging 36.3 points and 12.3 rebounds and shooting 59.5 percent from the floor. He even made his foul shots this time, converting 66.2 percent.

Shaq had his opponents demoralized by Game 2, when he scored 36 points in the first three quarters in a 106-83 rout, and he set records for points and free throw attempts in a four-game series. Amazingly, he was whistled for only seven fouls in the four games.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com contributed research to this list.