August 03, 2010
Back in 1995, a young Shaquille O'Neal(notes) led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals. Pretty nice accomplishment for a 22-year-old. But once he got to the finals, things didn't work out too well as he was destroyed in every conceivable notion by the legendary Hakeem Olajuwon. Not only did Olajuwon go for more than 30 points in each game of the sweep, he also outscored O'Neal in every game and held the giant a point below his season average for the whole series. Pretty dominating little stretch of basketball by one of the best centers of all-time.
Hilariously — and this might be something people have known about for years but not me, so deal with it — Shaquille dropped a little note to Hakeem after the finals ended, challenging him to some one-on-one. Sports Illustrated's Andy Gray unearthed the note and it's pretty much the best thing ever.
Hysterical. It's even funnier if you imagine Hakeem Olajuwon getting this in the locker room and laughing very loudly — albeit politely since this is Olajuwon after all — about Shaq challenging him to a one-on-one game after Hakeem had just destroyed him for four straight games. Cool challenge, Shaq, and way to sell out your teammates too. Never change.
As Skeets wisely noted, this is probably how those Taco Bell challenges got their start, so that's one of life's greatest mysteries that has now been solved. However, this note offers another mind-boggler — why did Shaquille O'Neal have a typewriter immediately after an NBA Finals game? And if he didn't and this was prepared before the game, why did he bring a type-written note admitting defeat to an NBA Finals game? I demand answers.