How Michael Jordan responded after hard foul by Shaquille O'Neal in 1st meeting
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How Michael Jordan responded after hard foul by Shaquille O’Neal in 1st meeting

Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan

Shaquille O’Neal recently sat down with NBA TV to recount a lesson he learned from Michael Jordan in the first game they faced one another.

The date was Jan. 16, 1993. The Chicago Stadium was the setting. Shaq, who was selected by the Orlando Magic with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, was just a rookie playing on the road. Jordan, on the other hand, was at or near the pinnacle of his meteoric rise to fame, as the Bulls had just won back-to-back championships.

Shaq was new to the league, but he wasn’t about to let Jordan have his way on the court. At least, that’s what he told himself before the game:

“Before the game, I was terrified,” Shaquille O’Neal said during his interview with NBA TV. “But to relieve the pressure of that, I thought, ‘I ain’t gotta guard him. I’m not worried.’

“The second thing I said to myself was, ‘I can’t let him dunk on me. That’s not gonna happen.'”

Like most teams of that era, the Magic struggled to contain Jordan. In fact, His Airness put up 64 points. However, after a hard-fought battle, his Bulls were defeated in overtime, 128-124.

At one point in the game, Jordan made a baseline drive to the hoop. As he went up for what appeared to be a dunk attempt, Shaq met him in mid-air to deliver a hard foul. The shot was sent back, and Jordan went down in a heap after the two players collided:

“I had to touch him up,” Shaq said of the foul. “I’m not getting dunked on, because I’ll never live that down from family members, homeboys and barber shops. That would have been a poster forever, because Mike was the man at the time.

“But Mike also taught me something very valuable,” Shaq added. “So when I go to help him up, he said, ‘Don’t ever help anyone up. Don’t do that. Great foul. I don’t need your help, but I’m coming back. Don’t you worry.'”

Though he was a rookie, Shaq turned in an impressive stat line in his first game against Jordan, notching 29 points and 24 rebounds.

Shaquille O’Neal went on to become one of the best big men the league has ever known, winning four championships over the course of his career. All along the way, he carried the lessons he learned from Michael Jordan.