Can’t Stop The Reign: When Shaq Dominated The 1996 NBA All-Star Game

Shaq Iverson’d Jordan Before Allen Iverson Iverson’d Jordan … Kinda

First the highlight…

Three things of note here:

  1. Those warm-ups are glorious. From the Bulls, Magic, OG Hornets, Bullets, not only do I want them all. I need them all.
  2. If Michael Jordan calls for the ball saying, “Right here, lil’ man,” to a 1996 Tins, there’s a 93.4% chance I hyperventilate and pass out with the ball in my hands. Not to compare any man to holy standards (and take away what I’ve come to learn about Mike over the years), but there’s a 99.99999% chance I would’ve reacted like I saw Jesus in the flesh after awaking from said hyperventilation.
  3. Shaq exposing the lost art of the mid-range, one-hand jumper was impressive. But oh me, oh my, that work he bestowed upon Mike in the paint was new god flow-worthy. The move was so outright dastardly the crowd even reacted, and all Mike could do was smile and slowly backpedal. In his mind, however, was the Jason Terry “I eat ass” face.

MJ and company would get the last laugh later that spring. And in a weird way, they opened the door for the next great NBA dynasty in the process (the Shaq and Kobe Lakers).

Shaq Literally Put David Robinson Through The Rim

I’ve waxed poetically about this dunk before. But the fact is not enough words in the English language exist to properly describe this manslaughter.

Shaq was the young buck in a league littered with future Hall of Fame big men (Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing, Alonzo and Mutumbo). Not for nothing, too, the game was  held in the Alamodome, the Admiral’s stomping grounds and the city where an even younger Shaq became a nationwide prodigy at Cole High School.

I can’t remember the first time I cursed, but I know in my head seeing Shaq pour down the tears of frustration from whatever rafter he found the ammunition on upon his West counterpart provided an “OH SHIT!” moment. And in a sign of the times, had this happened in the social media world, @Jose3030 would have it on YouTube with Jim Ross commentary overlapping it in less than three minutes.

What I’m attempting to say is Shaq expunged David Robinson’s soul on live television with a dunk that sounded more like a bomb being detonated. And then he threw up the hooks to his frat brother, MJ. The same MJ he shook quicker than a side chick when the clock strikes midnight on Valentine’s Day.

Go ahead. Find a better example. In fact, if someone does, I’ll buy him or her the first two rounds of drinks at the next happy hour. No better “big man on big man dunk” exists.

I promise it doesn’t.

Shaq Was Robbed Of MVP

The worst kept secret in sports was the NBA and America’s unprecedented bromance with Michael Jordan. So when His Airness coasted to 20 points on 8-11 shooting while watching the fourth quarter from the bench, him earning game MVP honors for the first time since 1988 in a ballyhooed return was anything but surprising.

The only thing is this: It actually was surprising.

Jordan earned much of everything he came in contact with during his time in basketball, but the 1996 All-Star Game MVP wasn’t one of them. Anyone — besides the seven media members who voted in favor of MJ over Shaq, 4-3 — would reflect the sentiment.* Hell, even Jordan himself did. To make the moment more awkward than it already was, after Jordan greeted Shaq at halfcourt following the game to congratulate him on earning the honor, fans showered down boos after learning the recipient.

Yes, Michael Jordan was peppered with boos. That Michael Jordan. At the height of his dominance, Michael Jordan. The King of America, Michael Jordan. And it’s not as if the crowd didn’t have solid backing either. O’Neal scored nine of his 25 points in the final frame, fending off a West rally, and punctuated it with the aforementioned David Robinson baptism with less than a minute remaining. Of the job, Jordan remarked in his acceptance speech the MVP should have been Shaq’s. Fellow East starter Scottie Pippen reflected the same opinion, telling reporters, “We were all shocked. I think all the players felt, like the fans, that Shaq had an MVP-type performance.”

As for Shaq:

“These are the trials and tribulations that happen to all great players,” he said. “I’ll get [the MVP] one day. I’ll get a bunch of things one day.”

Ain’t that the truth.

* – The voting media’s view was this: Ballots were to be submitted by the three-minute mark in the fourth quarter. Jordan’s 10-point third quarter helped push a three-point East lead to 102-80 by the start of the fourth. As S.I.’s Jackie MacMullan noted, “In a tight game Michael had been Michael.” That’s true and all, but another guy on his team had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

3 Replies to “Can’t Stop The Reign: When Shaq Dominated The 1996 NBA All-Star Game”

  1. You are the king of nostalgia, Mr. Tinsley. This is awesome. Shaq definitely deserved that MVP, and this was Shaq at his pinnacle as far as fitness is concerned.

    Too many people harp on Shaq for what he didn’t do later in his career instead of remembering how terrifying of a force he was. Great stuff.

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