For the Orlando Magic, Shaquille O’Neal accomplished many of the franchise’s firsts.
O’Neal would serve as the Magic’s first No. 1 overall pick, NBA All-Star, Rookie of the Year and scoring champion. On this day 30 years ago, O’Neal made his debut in a 110-100 victory over the Miami Heat.
Orlando was coming off a 21-61 season as it began the new campaign at Orlando Arena on Nov. 6, 1992. The Heat were coming off their first playoff appearance the year prior. Thanks to a double-double from O’Neal and a big second half, it was clear that Sunshine State supremacy was changing in the NBA.
The hype surrounded the No. 1 overall pick, but it was the Magic’s first-ever pick who stole the show. Nick Anderson finished with a then career-high 42 points on 17-for-26 shooting. Early on, however, Miami was in control.
The Heat led by 12 early and by a 65-56 margin by halftime. Orlando’s Dennis Scott added 27 points and shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Scott scored seven straight late in the third quarter to draw the Magic even at 81 entering the final period.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the Magic, who outscored the Heat 29-19 in the final period. After allowing Miami to score 65 points in the first half, Orlando held it to just 35 in the second.
Anderson added eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in the win, but O’Neal was the story. The big man finished with 12 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks. After a slow start, O’Neal made his presence felt late in the first.
After swatting a shot from Glen Rice, O’Neal’s first basket came on a putback slam off a miss from Donald Royal. He also went the length of the court for a dunk in the contest before fouling out late. Scott Skiles added 13 points and six assists in the win.
Willie Burton finished with 23 points to lead five Miami players in double figures. Rice added 19 points in the loss. As a team, Orlando shot 59% from the field.
O’Neal would go on to make the All-Star Game in each of his four seasons with the Magic. Over the course of his 19-year NBA career, O’Neal was a two-time scoring champion, 15-time All-Star, three-time NBA Finals MVP and a league MVP. His NBA debut came in a Magic victory on this day three decades ago.