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Using Shaquille O’Neal’s Inability to Take the Magic to the Playoffs in 1993, Heat Legend Pleads His Case for the ’93 ROTY

Shubham Singh

Using Shaquille O'Neal's Inability to Take the Magic to the Playoffs in 1993, Heat Legend Pleads His Case for the '93 ROTY

During the 1992-93 season, the 1992 NBA Draft’s #1 pick Shaquille O’Neal put up 23.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game to earn the 1993 Rookie of the Year award. He helped the Orlando Magic to a 41-41 record, but they couldn’t make it to the playoffs despite a 20-win improvement compared to the 1991-92 season. Alonzo Mourning, who was selected number two in the 1992 draft by the Charlotte Hornets, recently declared that he believes he had the stronger claim to the ROTY honor.

Mourning led the Hornets to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in the 1993 playoffs. Therefore, the 54-year-old believes he should have received extra points for that during the voting process.

During a recent appearance on the All The Smoke pod, Mourning revealed his gripe about not winning the 1993 ROTY. Zo hilariously recalled how Shaq was shocked when he learned that he wasn’t a unanimous ROTY like Victor Wembanyama was this year. Mourning had two votes in his favor.

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Later on a phone call, the former Hornets star candidly reminded Shaq that his resume was almost as attractive as the big man. In fact, the Miami Heat legend argued that he should have been the Co-Rookie of the Year alongside O’Neal.

I always tell the big fella, ‘Look, I had numbers rookie season too just like you had numbers. And it should have been co-rookie of the year’. I always tell him, Orlando didn’t make it to the playoffs, we did. Charlotte went to the playoffs the first time. I said,  ‘So y’all didn’t make, I led my team to the playoffs’, that should have held a little bit of weight,” Mourning told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.

Mourning did have a strong case for the 1993 ROTY award. He compiled 21 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game in his rookie season and led the Hornets to their first 50-win season. During the playoffs, the Hornets downed a veteran Celtics squad, but fell to the well-seasoned Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

However, Shaq’s domination was hard to ignore for the ROTY honors. Later on, the two top 1992 draft picks would bury the hatchet to become Championship teammates.

The Shaq-Zo connection

Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 and became close with Zo after he rejoined the Heat before the 2005-2006 season. During an episode of The Big Podcast in 2022, Shaquille O’Neal confessed that he was “beefing” with Mourning for no reason.

O’Neal learned that Zo is a “great dude” and apologized” to him for his prior transgressions. The two then propelled the Heat to their maiden NBA title in 2006.

Towards the end of the career, when he had the kidney [transplant] and he left for a while and he came to Miami and helped me with my fourth championship I may add. Once he got in the locker room, I said, ‘This dude is really cool, we should have done this a couple of years ago,” Shaq told Nischelle Turner and Spice Adams

Thus, the former rivals turned friends during their Heat tenure. They have kept a friendly relationship since then and regularly call each other. However, Zo always reminds Shaq about winning ROTY over him despite not leading his Magic to a playoff berth.

Post Edited By:Satagni Sikder

About the author

Shubham Singh

Shubham Singh


Shubham Singh is an NBA Journalist at SportsRush. He found his passion in Writing when he couldn't fulfil his dream of playing professional basketball. Shubham is obsessed with box scores and also loves to keep track of advanced stats and is, particularly, fond of writing CoreSport analytical pieces. In the league, his all time favorites were 80s Bad Boys, Pistons, while Dennis Rodman and his enthralling rebounding made him love the game more. It also made him realize that the game is much more than fancy scoring and playmaking. Shubham is also a huge fan of cricket and loves to watch all forms of women sports.

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