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Anderson thinks Orlando lost “five or six” rings when Shaq left

Jun 3, 2011, 1:12 PM EDT

Shaq Magic AP

Orlando got close to an NBA title when they had Shaquille O’Neal — they made it to the NBA finals against Houston and had a 20-point lead in the first half of Game 1. Then they gave it all back, Nick Anderson missed four free throws in the clutch and the Magic lost Game 1 in overtime. Then they mentally fell apart and got swept. The next year, Michael Jordan was back with the Bulls and… well, we all know how that ends.

It was after Jordan and the Bulls swept the Magic out of the Eastern Conference Finals that Shaq headed West to Los Angeles.

Orlando is still pretty bitter about that.

Anderson thinks if Shaq had played his whole career in Orlando, things would be different, he told the Orlando Sentinel.

I’m honest when I say this, I think we would have had five or six championships,” Anderson said of the mid-1990s Magic team he played on with Shaq, Penny Hardaway, Horace Grant and Co.

We’ll never know, but that seems high. Long before Jordan walked away and that door opened Penny Hardaway had started dealing with major injury issues that had taken his game back to being pretty average. You’re talking about having to restructure that team around Shaq, and it would not have been that simple.

But dream on Nick. That was a good team that had its chance.

  1. zblott - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Here’s a basic look at Shaq’s rank among the all-time great centers:

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2011/6/2/shaqs-place-among-the-best-centers-ever.html

    • SmackSaw - Jun 3, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      Looks about right. Gotta put Miken in there.

  2. florida727 - Jun 3, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Really puts into perspective what Jordan accomplished with the Bulls. Seems as though team nowadays can be so close to grabbing a ring, they miss out on a good opportunity, and never get another one. Happens in golf all the time in the majors. Strange how once an opportunity slips away, something seems to prevent the affected party from getting another chance. You wouldn’t think it could be the ‘mental’ thing, but who knows?

  3. passerby23 - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    As much of an Orlando fan as I was then, I don’t think they would’ve won even a single championship. I think the combination of Hardaway’s declining health and Jordan’s Bulls would’ve made it pretty hard. Not to mention the good Utah teams that got out of the West. Injuries and matchups also change the dynamic of series.

  4. philtration - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    If Jordan does not walk away for two years after his father was murdered then the Bulls probably win 8 straight titles.
    Who was going to beat them?
    Houston?
    New York?
    When Jordan returned the Bulls won 72 games that year and 69 the next.

    I doubt that you will see another NBA team win 6 rings in 8 years for a long long time if ever.

    • thesaint23 - Jun 4, 2011 at 12:27 AM

      the heat teams will not come close to doing what the bulls teams accomplished!

      Jordan – 6 rings
      Kobe – 5 rings
      Shaq – 4 rings
      Lebum – 0 rings

      after this series lebum will still be without a championship ring – it’s kind of sad that the poor devil has to refer to himself as the king after last year’s series and this year’s series maybe he should be referred to as the “queen”. (LOL).

  5. jttesq - Jun 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    How can a player be the ALL-TIME rebounder, be tied for the highest scoring average in a career, be the third all time scorer, be the ONLY player at his position to ever lead the NBA in assists,have the record for most points in a season, most points in a game most rebounds in a game, season and career, etc and be rated 5th at his position. Wilt led the NBA in rebounds more times than anyone else on the list but Russell finished in the top 3. He was the only player ever to defeat the Celtics during Russell’s career. As for his foul shooting, neither Shaq nor Russell were great foul shooters. Wilt is top 3 at the lowest.

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