Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley needed a timeout while on the TNT set last week following Game 4 of the Cleveland-Boston series.
At one point Shaq, as he has done through the years, reminded Barkley he never has won an NBA title, something Shaq has done four times.
Barkley, whose only appearance in the Finals was 1993 with Phoenix which lost in six games to Chicago, then dismissed Shaq’s four rings, saying he was “riding Dwyane Wade’s and Kobe’s coattails,” referring to Shaq’s 2006 championship with the Heat and three titles with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.
Barkley later added Heat center Alonzo Mourning to the list of players who coattails Shaq hopped on board on his way to winning titles.
Shaq was stung, calling Barkley “a bum” and saying people question “why you’re in the Hall of Fame.” At this point, show host and referee Ernie Johnson stepped in and asked why things got so personal.
Shaq’s fourth and final title came two years after he joined the Heat in 2004. While Shaq and Wade had All-Star seasons, Wade was better during the regular season and clearly was The Man in the Finals.
But the real question is did Shaq actually ride Wade’s coattails for a fourth ring?
Wade averaged 27.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists during the season in which he turned 24 in January. He was sixth in the MVP voting and second-team All-NBA. He was even better in the playoffs (28.4 ppg) which culminated with a historical finals in which he averaged 34.7 points and 7.8 rebounds while winning the MVP.
Shaq turned 33 in March of 2006 but still had a lot to give, as his being voted to the All-NBA first team for the seventh consecutive year shows (he was not in the Top 10 of the MVP voting). He averaged 20.0 points (the last time he would average 20 in his career) and 9.2 rebounds and led the league in shooting at 60 percent. He was an All-Star for the 13th time (he finished with 15).
And although his scoring tailed off in the Finals to 13.7 points, he led the Heat with 10.2 rebounds.
Clearly, the Finals was Wade’s stage and his coming out party as one of the best players in the league. But Shaq was a huge contributor to the Heat’s first title.
But to me, nobody rode anybody’s coattails.
The Heat would not have won the title in 2006 without either player. …. Not without Shaq coming aboard two years prior and certainly not without Wade.
But we put the question to you: