Today marks the 26th anniversary of The Orlando Magic drafting Shaquille O’Neal with the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, as a spectacular duo with him and Penny Hardaway was formed. Unfortunately, they didn’t reach their potential, mainly because of Penny’s injuries.
Shaquille O’Neal had a pretty legendary career. Not just with his own accomplishments, but also in terms of the stars he teamed up with. He’s played alongside a number of future Hall of Fame-caliber players, including Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, and LeBron James. Of course, it all started back in Orlando with Penny Hardaway. That duo managed to reach one NBA Finals together, but their partnership didn’t last for too long.
O’Neal decided that it was time for a new path elsewhere and headed to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers. The decision to join the Lakers clearly worked out well for Shaq by winning three straight NBA titles in L.A., though it is interesting to think what could have been for the Magic had O’Neal stuck around with Penny by his side. As fate would have it injuries decimated the future of Hardaway’s career. This has always left a question in the minds of many. What if Shaq had stayed with Penny in Orlando?
Shaq thinks they could have gone all the way: “All I was thinking was [we were] the new Magic and the new Kareem. When we played together it was awesome. He was Kobe before Kobe. So I think if we had stayed together we definitely would have gotten one. Maybe two.”
And he was probably right. The duo was electric and managed to develop great chemistry in a short time, along with a few other great supporting players like “3&D” Dennis Scott, Nick Anderson and etc. They were one of the scariest teams of the east in the ’90s in the golden era of the NBA as we were all unfortunate to not see more of them.