Shaquille O’Neal Opens Up on How Hakeem Olajuwon Embarrassing Him Shaped His Hall of Fame Career

Published 09/18/2021, 1:34 PM EDT


Shaquille O’Neal is regarded as one of the best centers and is one of the most successful players in the NBA. Shaq won four NBA championships in his career, a three-peat with the Lakers and one with the Heat. But Shaq’s first NBA Finals appearance came in 1995 for Orlando Magic. However, Shaq was made to wait for his first NBA championship as Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets thumped the Magic in four games.

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Shaq’s Orlando hosted the Rockets at home in the first game of the 1995 NBA finals. They played out till overtime and the Rockets won 120-118 away from home as Hakeem scored 31. The Rockets won their second game easily, but it was a tough contest between Hakeem and Shaq. Hakeem scored 34, whereas Shaq scored 33. But the Rockets were too good to handle for Shaq’s Magic as they swept the series 4-0. Shaq has recently talked about the 1995 NBA Finals loss and how it changed the course of his career.

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Shaquille O’Neal talks about how the 1995 loss motivated him

Shaquille O’Neal appeared on a recent episode of ‘Scoop B Radio‘. During the interview, Shaquille O’Neal opened up on how Hakeem Olajuwon embarrassed him in the NBA Finals. He also talked about bouncing back from his first NBA Finals loss.

“After making it to the Finals in ’95 and getting embarrassed by Hakeem Olajuwon, I said to myself, ‘if I ever go back, I gotta put on a performance so dominant that it won’t be a question who the champ is,” Shaq said.

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Hakeem Olajuwon is a two-time NBA champion with Houston Rockets and won the Finals MVP in both seasons. He spent his entire career with the Rockets apart from a one-year stint with Toronto Raptors in 2002-02. Hakeem played as a center, just like Shaq, and bossed the role in his career.

Shaquille O’Neal played through an injury for a major part of the 1995-96 season and Orlando Magic lost in the Eastern Conference finals to Jordan’s Bulls. Shaq joined the Lakers in 1996 and went on to become a key player for the LA-based franchise. Shaq truly bounced back from the embarrassing losses and injuries and won his first championship with the Lakers in 2000. He finished his first title-winning season with the MVP triplet of NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and All-Star MVP.

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Shaq established a formidable partnership with a young Kobe Bryant and won two more championships to complete a triplet of championships. From that point on, he never settled and made a whopping 15 All-Star appearances with three teams.

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Abhishek Singh

196 articles

Abhishek is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports with over two years of journalistic experience with Chase Your Sport and Dribl. A Football Management graduate, he has previously interned in the Indian Super League, I-League and the AFC Champions League. In addition to being a Michael Jordan fan, Abhishek is an ardent Steph Curry and Warriors guy, and believes they have a few more championships in store before the former retires.

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