Shaquille O’Neal is a basketball revolutionary.
From his early days breaking backboards and terrorizing opponents in the paint to becoming an epic businessman, O’Neal changed the game.
Now that he is listed firmly amongst the elites of the game and had whole eras as a championship-level player, he has altruistic ambitions for fellow legends of the game.
It all began on an episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” Co-hosts Nischelle Turner and Spice Adams discussed Shaq’s hosting of the “Verzuz” highlights battle between Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady and set up a question of epic proportions regarding the infamous rivalry between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas.
Initially, Shaq said he would like to see Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in an all-dunk “Verzuz.” Then Spice Adams suggested Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas not for highlights but just as a conversation.
“You know what, I’m going to try and get that produced, I am. A conversation between Mike and Isiah; I am,” said Shaq resolutely.
However, Nischelle expressed doubt about Jordan’s involvement because he was “petty.”
Isiah Thomas’ legend is era-defining.
After winning his first championship as the leader of the Detroit Pistons in 1989, he avenged a prior season championship loss to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in a title game.
However, in the Eastern Conference Finals, he was prepared for the rising Chicago Bulls and its star with the infamous Jordan Rules. The Pistons won the second of back-to-back championship during the 1990 season by defeating the Bulls in the East Finals for the second time.
New Bulls Energy
However, by the 1990-1991 season, a recharged Bulls team equipped with the triangle offense swept the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. During Game 4, the Bulls clinched the victory, and Thomas and some Pistons famously left the court without ceremoniously shaking any of the Bulls’ hands.
“I paid a heavy price for that moment, and if that moment meant that I’m not selected on the Dream Team because of that moment, then that’s hurtful. That cuts deep,” said Isiah Thomas to Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on “First Take” back in 2020.
Thomas was notoriously nixed from the 1992 Dream Team, and the rumor that has sustained was that Jordan himself made sure Zeke wasn’t on the squad.
“The only glaring hole that is missing from my résumé is an Olympic gold medal. I was the MVP in 1979 in the Pan-Am Games, the youngest player to have ever won an MVP,” Thomas continued on “First Take.”
However, Thomas also said after his investigation that he determined Jordan wasn’t the culprit.
“I never heard Jordan say he didn’t want me on the Dream Team. I’ve only heard (Scottie) Pippen and Karl Malone.”
The Pippen-Malone Problem?
Thomas’ perspective holds weight, with Scottie Pippen unloading recently about his true feelings about being the ultimate No. 2 man in Jordan’s perceived shadow and Karl Malone known as a more temperamental player.
It also means that the idea Shaq proposes of the two having a televised conversation might be possible.
On the “30 for 30” documentary series “The Last Dance,” Jordan said he didn’t like Isiah, but if anyone can bring them to terms it could be Shaquille O’Neal.
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