Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal graced the NBA around the same era, although MJ was already a bonafide legend by the time Shaq made his name. The two were both selected as All-Stars in the 1996 season, which gave fans a look into how things could have been, had they gone against each other in their prime. An Instagram user game7official_ shared the clip from the 1996 All-Star game, which saw O’Neal score a couple of jumpers while being guarded by Michael Jordan.
Of course, the two were only playing around and were in their trainers when the 1-on-1 took place. “A Game 7 featuring [Michael] Jordan and Shaq would be a must-watch masterpiece,” the clip claimed an idea which even O’Neal appears to be especially fond of.
Shaq shared the video on his Instagram story, signaling his agreement with how entertaining such a series could have been. Of course, while fans did see several games that saw the two going against each other, the closest we got to such a scenario was in the form of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1995.
Loading embed instagram https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1ae9v_L8iX/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading
The series took place just a couple of months after MJ came out of retirement, which made things easier for the Magic. Riding on the dominant Shaquille O’Neal and his fellow superstar in the form of Penny Hardaway, the Magic proved a bit too much for Jordan and company, who won only two games in a 2-4 series loss. Shaq produced 250 rebounds, averaged three steals, and returned with 146 points in six games.
Loading embed tweet https://twitter.com/tragicpatek/status/1740627496427778486?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Of course, while Shaq was arguably beginning his prime at the age of 23, Michael Jordan was rusty, and only returned to his best the following season. Hence, while the series did not represent the two players at their best, there is no doubt that things would have been much more hotly contested had that happened.
Shaquille O’Neal was terrified of going against Michael Jordan
Shaquille O’Neal’s dominance on the court meant that he seldom feared any opponent, regardless of their stature. That, however, does not seem to be true for Michael Jordan himself.
Shaq, according to Sports Illustrated, even confessed the reason behind it, claiming that it was simply because he had always looked up to Jordan.
“He’s the only man that had me terrified on the court. Because I went from high school, admiring him, in college, admiring him, admiring him and then he’s right there in front you and all the s*** you see on your poster like he’s doing it in real life like he came by me so fast sometimes I was like oh s***,” he said.
Of course, that does not mean he is not delighted with how the 1995 series between him and MJ went. Shaq had only recently stated how he and the Magic were the only team that was able to beat Jordan’s Bulls during the 1990s through an entire Playoff series. Of course, just the following season, in 1996, a fit-again Jordan led his team to a series sweep against the Magic as well.