Shaquille O’Neal On 2006 Finals: “We Knew We Could Do It”

Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton, Shaquille O'Neal, Game 6 2006 NBA Finals
Photo Credit: Glenn James
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

With FOX Sports Sun re-airing the 2006 NBA Finals throughout the week, Jason Jackson caught up with the one and only Shaquille O’Neal on Instagram Live on Friday afternoon.

Naturally, the two talked about that ‘06 championship team and who played a role in making it all work. In addition to crediting Dwyane Wade, O’Neal also made sure to include some other key contributors.

“We were unorthodox. We were enigmatic. We were slightly, a little bit, problematic. We knew we could do it. [We] had a lot of trials and tribulations, and Pat [Riley] did a great job of putting all of that together. I think after we lost the two games, me and D. Wade had a conversation because I didn’t have my Shaq-like Finals. I think that was the beginning of my decline, but it was ok because I still had other guys that were in the same position…[and] we had one guy that could put it all together. So, I was like, ‘Hey, man, I’m getting quadruple and triple-teamed. What are yall going to do? What are yall going to do?’ And finally, I told D. Wade, ‘Don’t be nice. Don’t be nice. At this point, I’m going to be a role player. Do it.’

And then the unsung hero of that was Alonzo Mourning and UD and [James] Posey and guys like that. I remember Alonzo waiting for this moment his whole life, and then when Pat pulled me out, Alonzo said, ‘I got you big dog. You carried us this far. I’ll take care of it.’ And he played some of the best five, six minutes I’ve seen ever [in that Game 6]. It reminded me of when Bill Walton was getting older and he was playing for the Celtics, coming in blocking shots [and] getting key rebounds…I was a hypocrite about him and Karl Malone and even Gary Payton…but Alonzo is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life, and I never knew that…because we never talked [before we played together]…I know you’re talking to me, and my championship, me and D. Wade, but you got UD, especially Alonzo [and] Posey [that also deserve credit]. And I think the biggest thing that Pat did was, after we lost the two games, his movie was coming out, Glory Road, and we watched the movie…I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long time from watching a movie.”

Shortly thereafter, Jackson asked O’Neal about passing the mantle to Wade in the Finals, but Shaq was quick to clarify that that had already been done.

“He already had the mantle because when I first got to Miami, I said, ‘Meet me on the beach…I know you don’t know me, and I know you heard a lot of stuff. This is what happened, and this is what cannot happen with us,’ so we already talked about it. It was already his team.”

Below are some other notable tidbits from the interview:

His toughest opponent was, “Alonzo [Mourning], especially our first four years, and then Hakeem [Olajuwon] in the [1995] Finals.”

In terms of work ethic, the players that reminded him of UD while in L.A. were Rick Fox, Brian Shaw and Horace Grant.

Lastly, Gary Payton was the best trash talker he’d ever been around.

Not surprising.

If you want to catch the HEAT’s epic championship run in 2006, FOX Sports Sun will be re-airing Games 3–6 of the 2006 NBA Finals on Saturday starting at noon. For the full schedule of Miami’s classic games and moments across FOX Sports Sun, 790 AM (Radio), NBA TV and NBA Twitter Live, click here.

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