Cohen 8-Ball: Reliving Magical Moments

Shaquille O'Neal’s Josh Cohen describes memorable plays and moments in franchise history.

Memorable Return

Shaquille O’Neal’s decision to leave Orlando for Los Angeles in 1996 remains one of the most high-profile free agency moves in American sports history.

In his first two meetings against his former team – both in L.A. – Shaq delivered a pair of dominant performances (25 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocks on Dec. 6, 1996 and then 35 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks on Jan. 19, 1998).

However, in his first return to Orlando on Feb. 22, 1998 (he missed previous season’s game in ORL with a knee injury), it was the Magic that found a way to topple O’Neal and his Lakers.

Nick Anderson, who finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, buried a go-ahead 3-pointer over the fingertips of Eddie Jones with 7.1 seconds left. Jones’ potential game-winning triple at the buzzer rimmed off.

Years later it was Dwight Howard that landed in L.A. via a four-team blockbuster trade and it didn’t take long for the Magic to get some “retribution” against the team’s former star. On Dec. 2, 2012 – just four months after the trade – the Magic put together a memorable fourth quarter that propelled Orlando to victory.

Watch highlights from both Shaq and Dwight’s early meetings against the Magic and vote below the win that is most treasured to you.


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