The controversy surrounding Shaq’s mediocre performance in the 1994 All-Star game
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The controversy surrounding Shaq’s mediocre performance in the 1994 All-Star game

Exactly 27 years ago, the 1994 All-Star game was held in Minneapolis, and it featured an incident that doesn’t get mentioned a lot nowadays because of the controversy surrounding it. The East beat the West 118-127, but the western conference players achieved their mission, completely shutting down Shaquille O’Neal. The young and dominant center was held to only 8 points, making only two shots in the entire game. He did grab 10 rebounds, but on offense, Shaq was stunned and ineffective.

After the game, Shaq’s teammate in Orlando, Penny Hardaway, said it was obvious what was going on in terms of players actively looking to shut down Shaq by any means necessary. That type of defense is not usual in an All-Star game where the focus is more on offense and letting players showcase their abilities. On the other hand, Shaq got triple-teamed on almost every possession, which is perhaps not something you want to see in a game like that.

It just seemed kind of crazy to have a guy like Shaq, triple and quadruple-teamed on the post every time he got the ball in an All-Star game. He is supposed to have fun in the All-Star game. You want to win but in some cases you don’t want to triple-team a man on the post. He was the only person to have 3 or 4 people around him while everybody else might get double-teamed once in a game. He was the only one to get it like that, and it was obvious, everybody in the crowd was talking about it.

Penny Hardaway

After the game, there was a notion it was coach George Karl, who ordered the players to stop Shaq by any means necessary. When asked about it by the reporters, he said that wasn’t his intention, and it was all up to the players to make those decisions. That sounded untrustworthy at the time because players tend to listen to their coaches, even at the All-Star game to a certain degree.

The perception is that I tried to triple-team him in the All-Star game, and the truth is that I didn’t.

George Karl

Shaq himself said they were trying to bash him out on the floor, and he and Penny were on a mission after that game to get back at George Karl and the Supersonics the next time they play them.

Penny came over to me and said, those guys tried to bash you out there. When we are playing Seattle, I am giving you the ball 50 times, you will have 50 dunks. I think it was a bit him and the players.

Shaquille O’Neal

Luckily for Shaq, he didn’t have to wait long for a game against the Supersonics, which was only five days after the All-Star game. In that specific game, Shaq went on a tear, and it was evident he was on a mission backed up by Penny, who gave him the ball every time he could. The Magic dismantled the Supersonics, with Shaq having a monster game with 38 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Shaq got his revenge against Karl and the Supersonics after a catastrophic performance at the All-Star game that was probably initiated by Karl and some other players from the West squad.