The 1995 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic was a true battle of two great centers. A prime Hakeem Olajuwon versus a young Shaquille O’Neal. A battle for the ages.
But in the end, the Rockets would end up sweeping the Magic 4-0, as Hakeem just merely had much more help around him with the likes of Clyde Drexler, Robert Horry, Sam Cassell, Kenny Smith, Mario Ellie and more.
Hakeem finished the series averaging 32.8 ppg and 11.5 rpg, while Shaq had 28.0 ppg and 12.5 rpg
On the other hand, Shaq had players like Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott, and Horace Grant, but outside of Shaq and Penny, everybody underperformed.
So Shaq competitive as he is couldn’t just let it go, as he decided to challenge Hakeem after the Finals to a 1 on 1 game.
About a month after the NBA Finals were finished Taco Bell put out a campaign. It was a short note from Shaq challenging Hakeem for a 1 on 1 matchup.
Not many people took it seriously, but after about a week it was confirmed to happen, as it was a legit promotional piece for a Pay Per View event for a 1 on 1 game between the two centers for 1 million dollars.
It was something never seen before, as the NBA world was buzzing for the event. It was organized as a fight night with undercards like Kevin Garnet versus Joe Smith or Nick Van Exel versus Kenny Anderson.
“It’s just us. No Andersons, no Hardaways, no Tomjanovich, no Brian Hill,” O’Neal told the LA Time at the time for the upcoming event, which supposedly was going to have a 12-second shot clock and even a six-point shot.
But unfortunately just a day before the event, Hakeem canceled due to “sore sacroiliac from lifting weights,” It was a huge letdown, as Taco Bell tried everything to find a replacement and save the event.
They tried to get Alonzo Mourning or even the tandem of Spud Webb and Mugsy Bogues to play against Shaq, but they couldn’t manage, as they decided to cancel the event and refund millions.
It was such a shame that we didn’t get to see this battle.