I’m constantly telling and/or reminding people how good and scary Orlando Shaquille O’Neal was. The one that won NBA Player of the Week in his first week in the league, was faster than LA championship Shaq and actually had an effective turnaround jumper. In just his second year in the league, Shaq averaged 29.3 points a game and was 4th in MVP voting. He led the league in scoring the next year and was runner-up to David Robinson in the MVP race. By the end of his four-year career in the Magic Kingdom, he was already named one of the Top 50 NBA players of all-time. But, people seem to act like he wasn’t great until Kobe came along and he started winning championships with the Lakers.
Today’s throwback goes way back to his second season, when he and his favorite person to argue with on Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley, both put up monster stats against each other in a nationally televised 1993 game between the Magic and Suns. Shaq was coming off a 40 & 14 and 28 & 21 performance and continued to dominate in this game: hitting his first seven shots, only one of those seven was a dunk. He and his sideburns had the whole offensive arsenal — jump hooks, bank shots and turnaround jumpers — going and finished the game with a game-high 39 points on 16 of 26 shooting and 7 of 12 from the charity stripe. He also chipped in with 14 boards, a career-high 6 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. The 1993 NBA MVP was coming off a poor shooting night (14 points on 4 of 12 from the field and 6 of 10 from the line) against the Heat and bounced back with 30 points (11-22 fg), 20 boards despite taking a hit in the jaw from Shaq in the third quarter.
”I couldn’t feel a thing,” Barkley said after the Suns 100-93 victory. ”It was an accident. I hope! Now I know why boxers stutter a lot.”
Smelling salts woke Barkley up from Shaq’s hit and probably should have been used on Shaq’s teammates in the fourth quarter. The team scored just 18 points in the final quarter and the trio of Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott made just 10 of 34 shots in the contest.
Besides Shaq hitting Barkley in the jaw, a few other standout moments in this video are:
- Shaq’s turnaround (0:51)
- Shaq accidentally slapping a cheerleader (5:29)
- Barkley trying to block a Shaq dunk (7:39)
Shout out to OldSkoolBBall from posting so many awesome reminders that I’m old as shit!
SHAQ VS BARKLEY
As you know, Shaq and Barkley would have numerous other memorable duels on and off the court.