Tip-Off Timer: Admiral Scores 71
Going into the final day of the 1993-94 season, Shaquille O'Neal, a second-year phenom, led the race for the scoring title with a 29.3125 points per game average. David Robinson, the 28-year-old Spurs star, trailed at 29.2658 points per game.
In his early game against the Clippers, Robinson needed to score enough points to put Shaq away before Shaq's own late game against New Jersey. The Admiral later told Basketball Digest he thought 50 points would be safe -- that Shaq could score 50, but it'd be difficult for him to do so in such a situation. So Robinson went into his game in L.A. looking for 50 points.
He got 71.
Robinson walked away with the scoring title (Shaq scored only 32) and the biggest scoring night in the NBA since David Thompson hung 73 points on the Pistons to win the 1978 scoring title on the season's final day. NBA.com has an announcer-less highlight reel cobbled from the local broadcast from that night; the eerie lack of rah-rah is oddly compelling.
It's unclear whether today's stars would get away with taking 40 FGAs to win the scoring title on the final day of the season. The Spurs had nothing at stake in The Admiral's 71-point game, but just imagine the beating LeBron or Kobe would get for chasing individual accomplishments these days.