The NBA finals in 1995 featured a real battle of the giants. An experienced Hakeem Olajuwon went up against a young but powerful Shaquille O’Neal in a series, that didn’t play out as the most fans imagined. The Houston Rockets swept the Orlando Magic and Hakeem got the best of Shaquille during the whole series. After that championship, Hakeem earned the status as one of the best big men who ever graced the basketball hardwood.
After that series, a one-on-one challenge was supposed to happen between Shaq and Hakeem. Taco Bell was the sponsor of this event and the location was also confirmed in the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City on September 30th in 1995.
“The War on the Floor” was supposed to be a pay-per-view event was available nationwide, however it never happened because of Hakeem’s Olajuwon’s back injury.
The interest in this event was incredible and Taco Bell did everything they could in order to make this happen. Jerry Gramaglia who was at that time serving a position as the senior vice president at the Taco Bell Corp said the following about the event.
“The overwhelming outpouring of interest across America to see Shaq and Hakeem actually go one-on-one, no holds barred, left Taco Bell with just one choice: to help make the dream a reality. It’s a defining moment for Shaq, Hakeem and Taco Bell, and one that will go down in the record books as one of the most exciting events in the annals of sports history. We are proud to be the sponsor of this extraordinary event.”
What is also interesting about this matchup is the fact that Donald Trump was also heavily involved in the event and its organization since it was supposed to be organized at one of his venues.
“Shaq versus Hakeem in the Taco Bell One-on-One Championship will be the most fabulous event Atlantic City has ever seen, and only the Trump Taj Mahal could host such a mega-event. Once again, the entire world will be focused on Atlantic City for what is sure to be an event that will go down in history,”
Hakeem and Shaq even filmed a promotional video prior to the event which further shows the seriousness of this event actually happening at that time.
Unfortunately for every NBA fans, the event got canceled and there were serious rumors going around that David Stern was involved, however, that was never officially confirmed.
After Shaquille and Hakeem backed out from the event Taco Bell tried to find a replacement with several NBA players like Alonzo Mourning, Mugsy Bogues, and Spud Webb. After they completely backed out from the idea they had to refund million dollars to different parties and the fans didn’t see Shaq go up against Hakeem in a matchup that would for sure had much attention from the media.