Shaquille O’Neal will always be a Laker, but it’s hard to find a real NBA fan that doesn’t enjoy the Shaq and Penny era in Orlando. They formed a dynamic duo that was captivating to watch. By the way, they were the only team to beat MJ and Scottie in the playoffs.
The ’94/’95 season marked the return of Michael Jordan to the NBA. MJ was getting his NBA legs back playing with 45 on his back, and Penny and Shaq were ready to take over the Eastern Conference. Tensions were high, and Nick Anderson’s quote didn’t help:
“Number 23, he could just blow right by you! Number 45, he revs up, but doesn’t really take off.”Shaquille O’Neal
If we got a dollar for every “look at this dumbass trash-talking MJ” article, we wrote. Well, MJ decided to switch back to 23 after that quote and guess what happened in the next game. The Bulls won and evened the series 2-2. But, Shaq and Penny wouldn’t let Nick Anderson cost them a fantastic season. The Magic won the next two games and eliminated the Bulls 4-2. Then Shaq made a rookie mistake. He thought it will be a walk in the park after that. (via Today):
We got close in Orlando, and I broke a rule. You celebrated too early. Because we’ve beat Michael Jordan, which nobody has ever done.Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq said he won a lot of money with kids like making a simple wager. They would tell him MJ never lost, and Shaq would make a killing. “Google me, buddy.” But, young Shaq was already planning a parade. Hell, he had a mini-parade before the Finals.
So we beat them, I’m partying like a mug. I have a 60,000 square foot house, I’m bringing people over; cause in my mind I already had the championship won. But, you broke the major rule, the basketball gods paid me back, very nicely. We already had a mini-parade at Disney.Shaquille O’Neal
It only fits the Magic lost against the Rockets led by one of the greatest at his position, but a complete opposite in character. If there ever was a player not to take anything that happens to him for granted, it would be Hakeem Olajuwon.