Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most sought-after players in the summer of 2004. His relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant had fallen apart. He was willing to go to a team who wanted him and had the proper pieces to win a championship. The Dallas Mavericks fit this profile and none other than Shaq’s wife (now ex) Shaunie tried to nudge owner Mark Cuban to acquire the big man.
The wives of NBA stars usually stay out of their husband’s business. But Shaunie O’Neal is a different breed. So much so that he sent hints to Mavs owner Mark Cuban that Dallas is her preferred choice to live in. She knows that family plays a big factor in where a player takes his talents to.
"Right now, I'd love to go to Dallas. Love to go! ... Hint, hint, so [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban], if you're listening…," Shaunie said, per ESPN.
Shaunie uttered the comments while giving a tour of their 18-bedroom Los Angeles mansion, which they put up for sale. Shaunie noted that they had outgrown the place. And they were selling to even if Shaq stayed in Los Angeles or not.
"Now it just seems more dramatic than it is, but whatever works. ... If this means business, then hey, we mean business!" Shaunie added.
This might be one of the earliest cases of tampering. Lucky for Shaunie, the deal didn’t push thru or the league would’ve investigated the matter.
Besides, details reveal that while the Mavs loved to have Shaq, they weren’t willing to break up their trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley. Among the three, Nowitzki was untouchable. There was no way they’d let their sharpshooting big man leave.
“I’d be hard-pressed to see us trading Dirk. Dirk is as close to an untouchable as we’d get,” Cuban said, per Amarillo.com via Hoops Habit.
It’s one of those what-ifs in NBA history. Imagine if Dirk went to the Lakers to team up with Kobe Bryant. It certainly looks good on paper but would it catapult the Purple and Gold to victory? The same goes for Shaquille O’Neal. Would the Mavericks properly utilize him the way Phil Jackson did?
Adding Miami Heat to the equation, would they have still won the 2006 NBA Championship with Dwyane Wade? It’s an interesting thought. It shows how these player movements — especially if it involves superstars — could change the entire landscape of basketball history.