5 best Shaquille O'Neal moments with the Orlando Magic
1. Welcome to the NBA Finals!
June 4, 1995: Shaq's domination sends Orlando to franchise's first NBA Finals
Looking back, this is the day Orlando Magic fans remember as the peak of this dynasty. The crowd has possibly never been more raucous for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. The franchise's first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals, just six years after its beginning, was a feat that could not have been pulled off without Shaquille O'Neal.
Just to get to the Eastern Conference Finals at all took taking down the mighty Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan was back, as No 45 and 23 in that series. Could the Bulls have won six straight rings had Jordan never retired before the 1994 season?
The Magic did not care for what-ifs. They did not care if it was No. 45 or No. 23. O'Neal and his squad cared about winning.
In the deciding Game 6 of that second-round series, O'Neal led all scorers with 27 points to go with 13 rebounds, as well as a guard-like four assists and four steals. Bulls dyansty or not, no one was stopping him
The Eastern Conference Finals was his series from start to finish. But Game 7 was the finishing blow.
He led the team in scoring in all four victories against the Indiana Pacers throughout the series, dominating the big men tandem of Rick Smits, Antonio Davis and Dale Davis all series.
He averaged 27.6 points per game through the series on better than 66 percent shooting from the field. In Game 7, he scored 25 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked two shots and went 11 for 15 from the field to cap a revenge series from the year prior.
All in all, domination from the Diesel.
O'Neal and the Magic's first playoff appearance was a first-round sweep by those pesky Pacers. This time around, it was O'Neal's turn, and it was the height of Orlando's short-lived dynasty.
O'Neal will go down as one of the greatest players in Orlando Magic history. He kickstarted four years of basketball that even those living on Church Street and beyond were not prepared for.
O'Neal not only revolutionized the sport but endeared himself to a fanbase for good.
It could have been 15 years in Orlando or it could have been 10, but it was four, and it was four incredible years. The big man in the middle turned the city of Orlando into a basketball powerhouse.
When the question came up to who should be the franchise's first retired jersey, the conversation has to start with No. 32. And there were truly some incredible moments to celebrate during that short stint that will be immortalized forever next month.