Shaquille O’Neal is totally wrong about his Lakers beating Michael Jordan’s Bulls
With the documentary miniseries, “The Last Dance,” which chronicles Michael Jordan’s life and career, getting set to kick off on April 19, people are naturally reminiscing about Jordan’s run with the Chicago Bulls in the ’90s.
Jordan’s Bulls won six championships, going 6-0 in the NBA Finals. The run established Jordan as the greatest player who ever lived, and most also consider those Bulls the best team in league history.
While O’Neal’s Lakers remain the only team to have won three straight titles since Jordan’s Bulls and while they certainly would have given Chicago a run for its money, Shaq is simply wrong here.
First of all, no one was “easily” beating Jordan’s Bulls. They went 6-0 in the finals for a reason, ousting some very tough teams along the way.
Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the dynamic duo for the first three rings. Then, for the latter three, Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper joined them.
It seems hard to envision any club beating that squad, period. Let alone doing it “easily.”
I will say that O’Neal does have a point about the frontcourt matchups. However, O’Neal and the Orlando Magic went up against Luc Longley and Bill Wennington in 1996, and in spite of Shaq averaging 27 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while shooting 64 percent from the floor, the Bulls swept the Magic. The series wasn’t even close.
Yes, Shaq’s Magic bested Chicago in the playoffs the year prior, but that was when Jordan came back at the tail end of the regular season (remember: he did not play at all in 1993-94 due to retirement) and clearly was not in his best shape. I find it difficult to believe that Orlando would have beaten the Bulls in ’95 if Jordan played the whole season.
So right away, Shaq’s logic is faulty. He already did do some damage against Longley and Wennington. And yet, his team got swept anyway.
We can definitely point to the early 2000s Lakers being better than those Magic teams, as they had a top-flight shooting guard by the name of Kobe Bryant. But O’Neal’s whole point is that Los Angeles would have topped Chicago because he would have dominated the paint.
Look: if you had to pick any teams to challenge the ’90s Bulls, the early 2000s Lakers would definitely be one of the finalists. Shaq was on another level at that point, and Bryant was a two-way stud.
But we are talking about the GOAT here. Do you think Jordan would have gone down “easily” to anyone in his championship years? Those Chicago clubs are widely considered the greatest ever for a reason. Jordan was just that good, and his fierce competitive nature was what drove the Bulls to win six titles in six finals appearances.
Shaq is a prideful guy, so it’s no surprise that he made such a statement. And I love the big fella. But he’s wrong.