Shaquille O’Neal demanded a one-on-one matchup against Hakeem Olajuwon for $1 million after having lost to the Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals.
By the time the 1995 NBA Finals had rolled around, Shaquille O’Neal had already established himself as one of the best centers in the league. He averaged the second highest points per game of his career in this third season of his at 29.3 but had a slight dip in the postseason as he put up 25.7 points per game in those 21 bouts.
Hakeem Olajuwon on the other hand, had been the best center in the league for years on end, and was coming off a 1994 NBA Finals victory. The stage was set for the Orlando Magic to meet the Houston Rockets in the 1995 Finals, and this became apparent after Shaquille O’Neal eliminated Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the ECSF.
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This however, didn’t turn out all too well for ‘The Big Aristotle’ as he couldn’t keep up with Hakeem’s blistering offense as ‘The Dream’ averaged a whopping 32.8 points in this Finals. The Rockets made short work of the Magic but it wasn’t over for Orlando’s man in the middle.
Shaquille O’Neal challenged Hakeem Olajuwon to a one-on-one for $1 million.
Shaquille O’Neal was seemingly enraged at the fact that he got outplayed by Hakeem Olajuwon every step of the way in the 1995 NBA Finals. So, he decided to challenge and subsequently set up a one-on-one between himself and the Rockets big-men. He even sent Olajuwon a letter that read:
“Hakeem- The series may be a done deal, but it ain’t over between you and me. Sure, you’re pretty good with your team behind you, but I want you one on one.”
The two time champ quickly agreed and the ‘War on the Floor’ event was set up, even having a couple undercard bouts as well. Taco Bell quickly latched on as a sponsor and the prize money for the victor would be a whopping $1 million. The two even filmed a promotional video for the ensuing 1v1.
Unfortunately, Hakeem withdrew from the contest a day before it was supposed to take place. He reportedly had ‘sore sacroiliac from lifting weights’. The event was trying to truck along by calling in Alonzo Mourning to play Shaquille O’neal but nothing ever materialized and the event was cancelled.