53 Days to Tip Off: Shaq’s 53-point game and the 1994 scoring race

Believe it or not, we are less than one month away from the first Magic preseason game. Orlando will open training camp on October 1 and open the preseason in Mexico City against New Orleans on October 7. So how will we get ready? By counting down to the beginning of the season on November 2 against Denver. Let’s continue:

Today we look back at a 53-point performance from Shaquille O’Neal.

On April 20, 1994, Shaquille O’Neal scored 53 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. He shot 22 for 31 from the floor and added four assists and two blocks as well as the Magic won 121-101 at Orlando Arena against the Timberwolves (sister team!). The 53 points set a Magic record and gave O’Neal the lead in the coveted race for the league’s top scoring.

Of course, we all know what happened in the end. David Robinson dropped 70-plus points in the final game against the hapless Clippers to wrap up the league’s socring title.

This was a big deal at the time as O’Neal was trying to cut his teeth in the NBA and prove he belonged in the same sentence as David Robinson and Hakem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. That 1994 season was his first trip to the Playoffs and really helped him become a true superstar center in a time when there were a ton of centers. 

Here is what Selena Roberts wrote in the Orlando Sentinel on the game and the chase:

There’s no one to tell O’Neal he has to wait his turn to win it, as has been the case with the MVP balloting. There’s no one to vote against him because they believe he’s overhyped, oversold or too concerned with musical and movie stardom.

If he wins the scoring title, he can tell them all to ”beat it,” which bring us to one of O’Neal’s most famous friends. Michael Jackson was said to be a visitor at O’Neal’s home before the game.

”The world’s greatest entertainer in the world came to my house,” O’Neal said without giving away the star. ”And I said, ‘I’m going to get 50 (points).’”

53 more days!

Recapping the Countdown:

55: Laron Profit, or how we got Jameer Nelson… 54: Horace Grant, it’s got to be the goggles!.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily