One of the most awaited debuts in NBA history was the one of Shaquille O’Neal back on November 11, in 1992. Shaq was already a big college star prior to his rookie season in the NBA and the Orlando Magic were the franchise lucky enough to draft him.
The 7’1″ 300-pound Shaq with a 36″ vert and only 10% body fat was seen as a savior of a franchise that was started in Orlando just a couple seasons prior to his rookie debut.
And Shaquille did not disappoint in his first game against Miami Heat. In 32 minutes of action, Shaq scored 12 points on only 8 shot attempts, grabbed 18 big rebounds and had 3 blocks in a win that also had some other big performances from other players.
Nick Anderson had 42 points and 8 rebounds while Dennis Scott finished the game with a strong 27-point performance for the Magic. Shaq didn’t score a lot that night but his presence was felt on the defensive end of the floor where he was setting the tone with his ability to rebound and block shots.
Miami Heat center Rony Seikaly was in charge of guarding Shaq for the majority of that night and was overwhelmed by Shaq’s power.
“When he leaned on me, it was like a house falling on you,”
Shaq would go on to have a dominant rookie season averaging 23 points, 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game. Of course, he would go on to win the rookie of the year award that season. Orlando Magic had 20 wins more that season after Shaq joined the team and were in a good situation to build the franchise the right way after drafting such a powerful player.
Unfortunately, they had a couple of bright moments but ultimately didn’t win any championships and a very talented Orlando Magic team was eventually broke apart.