Coming into the league Orlando’s rookie sensation Shaquille O’Neal gained worldwide fame as the master of dunks and blocked shots, who terrorized the opposition while transforming the Magic and the league. According to Shaq, the ‘Eighth wonder of the world’ got dunked on only once! Shaq still lists this moment as the most embarrassing moment of his entire 19-year long NBA career:
“I always took pride in being a big man that never got dunked on. So one time in New Jersey, because I’m from New Jersey, in front of all the fans, I’m playing against Derrick Coleman. And maybe you don’t know Derrick Coleman; he’s left-handed, he is a beast. So, Derrick has me on the block. And he takes one dribble, two dribbles, drop step, hit me with the little ‘bow, and dunked it!”Shaquille O’Neal, NBA TV Open Court
Shaq didn’t even know he got dunked on until the ball hit him in the face! O’Neal looked at his family and friends in the stands, and all he saw was a lot of faces covered in embarrassment. Shaq went to the bench, and by his own admission, had a little tear in his eye.
Each time the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets, two exciting early 1990s Atlantic division teams squared off, it was some unforgettable games. Especially for all the fans present in the Brendan Byrne Arena in Meadowlands, New Jersey. Those two young and robust teams matched up just perfectly.
In front of his family and friends, Shaq would terrorize the Nets respectable frontline consisting of Sam Bowie, Chris Dudley, and young star Derrick Coleman, creating a problem of nightmarish proportions for Chuck Daly’s squad. On the other side, with the Nets on offense, D.C.-Derrick Coleman terrorized the Magic defense, either lighting it up and connecting from the outside, either taking it down on a low block and scoring.
The two, Shaq and D.C. would go at each other. No mercy, no remorse, to the last atom of strength. The battle would begin even before the game when the two verbally squared off:
“We’re out there, right off the grid, man, talking shit to each other. You know what I’m sayin’. That’s how all of us grew up playing basketball. ‘Hey, what you gonna do?!?‘. ‘You ain’t got nobody down there to check me; I will get 40‘. ‘You don’t get 40 on this M****rf****r.’ We’re going back and forth, laughing, talking shit, talking shit.”Derrick Coleman, The Player’s Tribune
On March 4th, 1993, in another electrifying duel between the two, Coleman went off by scoring 34 points, along with 15 boards and four rejections, while leading the Nets to a convincing 97-116 home win. But more importantly, D.C. made a massive statement by dunking the ball over Orlando’s rookie sensation, who had 18 points, 11 boards, and eight blocked shots!
“I drove that bitch and banged it on his m****rf******n head. Banged it! I hit him with that (shows finger). See, Dikembe stole that from me! I hurt to hit a mother over with that finger, like ‘Yeah.‘”Derrick Coleman, The Player’s Tribune
So, next time those two Atlantic Conference teams of ‘young guns’ met, on April 23rd, 1993 in New Jersey, Nick Anderson scored career-high 50 points, and Shaq, who wanted to double-up on Coleman, made just a huge statement by pulling down the whole basket construction!
That year, the Nets made the postseason trip with 43-39 regular-season record, while the Magic narrowly missed it by going 41-41 and having being tied with the Pacers for the 8th seed in the East.