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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 03:42 GMT 04:42 UK
Lakers clinch NBA title
Kobe Bryant (left) lifts the NBA championship trophy while Shaquille O'Neal shows off his 'most valuable player' prize
Bryant (left) and O'Neal hoist the NBA and MVP prizes
The Los Angeles Lakers clinched the NBA title on Wednesday with a 113-107 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

Shaquille O'Neal's Lakers went into the game at the Continental Airlines Arena in Rutherford with a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

They knew a 4-0 lead would ensure the seventh sweep in NBA Finals history and the first since the Houston Rockets beat the Orlando Magic in the minimum number of games in 1995.

O'Neal turned in another dominating performance, scoring 34 points.

The "three-peat", and the manner in which it was achieved, confirmed the Lakers dynasty and elevates the team, their coach Phil Jackson and O'Neal to places among the all-time greats.

With the Lakers' clinical dissection of the Nets, Jackson surpasses Pat Riley for most career playoff wins with 156 and clinches his ninth championship ring, marking him out as a coaching legend alongside Boston Celtic great Red Auerbach, whose mark he equalled.

O'Neal won a third consecutive MVP award
O'Neal won a third consecutive MVP award

Only five teams in NBA history have strung together three consecutive champion seasons and Jackson has now coached three of them having also done it twice with the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls from 1991-to-1993 and 1996-to-1998.

O'Neal, meanwhile, was an overpowering presence dictating play whenever he was on the court.

His tour de force performance earned him a third consecutive MVP award and confirmed his credentials as the dominant big man of all-time.

Despite a painful arthritic right big toe, O'Neal embarked on a rim-rattling rampage registering 15 post-season double-doubles.

Through the finals O'Neal was virtually unstoppable, the hulking 7-foot, 1-inch, 330-pound centre scoring 145 points in four games.

The Nets stepped onto the court for Game Four aware history was against a comeback, no team having ever clawed their way back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.

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