Shaquille O’Neal is never one to shy away from being 100 percent honest and unfiltered. Especially when it comes to his 1999-2000 MVP season when he was one vote shy from being the first-ever unanimous selection in NBA history.
O’Neal posted historic numbers that season when he averaged a career-high 29.7 points per game, shot a league-leading 54.4 percent from the field, on top of grabbing 13.6 rebounds a game and averaging three blocks a night. The Lakers big man dominated the paint that season on the way to Los Angeles’ first of three consecutive titles.
During an appearance on Kristine Leahy’s Fox Sports show, “Fair Game,” the Hall of Famer answered Leahy’s question before she could finish it, regarding whether he remembers the name of the reporter who opted to vote for Allen Iverson instead.
“Fred Idiot Hickman,” O’Neal said. “I hate him. I don’t need to talk to him. There’s nothing to apologize about. Because he destroyed history being an a******.”
Hickman voted for Iverson, who was second behind O’Neal in scoring with 28.4 points per game on a Philadelphia 76ers team that lost to the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Iverson went on to win MVP the following year after averaging 31.1 points per game, but eventually lost to Shaq’s Lakers in the 2001 Finals.
“There wasn’t anyone doing close to what I was doing and I told the world I was going to do that,” O’Neal said. “They saw it on my face every time I played. He messed up history, and then a couple years later he’s gonna give Steph Curry unanimous? I love Steph. He’s my favorite guy, he knows that, but come on.”
Instead of Shaq’s name being alongside the first unanimous MVP, it was Curry who was granted that honor after his 2015-16 season when he joined the pristine 50-40-90 club on his way to his second consecutive MVP. O’Neal finished second in MVP voting twice over his 20-year career, in 2004-05 he finished second to Steve Nash and in 1994-95 he was second to David Robinson.