END OF AN ERA: When Shaquille O’Neal Left Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers to Join Miami Heat

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In the early 2000s, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were the most devastating duo. They were so dominating, going on to win a three-peat from 2000-2002. But all this time, behind the scenes, they had a feud going on which was hidden by the trophies. But as the success dried up from 2003 onwards, their relationship became worse.

Then on 14th July 2004, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and a future first-round pick.

Shaq went from one elite shooting guard partner to another. After Kobe Bryant at Los Angeles, Shaq had Dwyane Wade at Miami. Wade was entering his second season in the league after finishing third in the voting for Rookie of the Year. Shaq gave Wade the nickname ‘Flash’ for his lightning-quick speed.

Shaquille O’Neal gets his fourth championship

In the first season, they looked and played like contenders. After finishing with a 59-23 record, they ended up as the top seed in the East. Shaq’s phenomenal season almost awarded him the MVP, as he finished second behind Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash. The Heat battered their opponents in the first two rounds of the playoffs, as they went reached the Conference Finals after consecutive sweeps. However, their juggernaut was brought to a halt as they lost to the Detroit Pistons in a seven-game series.

The next season, they strengthened their squad bringing in Jason Williams and Antoine Walker. They also signed 37-year old Gary Payton who was still looking for his first ring. They finished as the second seed, after ending the regular season with a 52-30 record.

Although they weren’t as dominant as the previous season, they still eased their way to the NBA Finals. After beating the Bulls and the Nets, they got their revenge over the Pistons as they beat them 4-2 in the Conference Finals. In the Finals, they faced Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. They had an initial scare after losing the first two games. But then they bounced back, winning four in a row to seal the title.

In the Finals, Shaq had a reduced role as Wade went on a rampage. He won Finals MVP averaging 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists.

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