Miami Heat president Pat Riley made a surprising and shocking statement today when he said that trading for Shaquille O'Neal was the biggest acquisition the Miami Heat have ever made. Riley told it to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, while also claiming that the trade was bigger than the acquisition of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh back in 2010.
While many people are surprised at Riley's comments, one thing is clear -- he really loves the first Miami Heat championship ever. Trading for Shaq made it possible and the Heat won their first championship in the franchise history in 2006, the second year of O'Neal's tenure with the team. The Heat traded for him in 2004 and in his first year with the team, O'Neal averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Heat swept first two rounds in the playoffs, but got eliminated in the conference finals in seven games against the Detroit Pistons. In the second year, Shaq averaged career-low 20 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but the Heat made it to the NBA Finals and beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
Even though the Heat were led by the young and sensational Dwyane Wade, who averaged 24.1 and 27.2 points per game in 2005 and 2006, O'Neal also played a big role in the championship. Wade averaged 34.7 points per game during the championship series which was one of the best performances of all time.
Still, Riley's comments could be a bit too much as the Big 3 won two championships and made four straight NBA finals. On top of that, Wade was part of each championship run of the Miami Heat as he was there for 13 years through thick and thin. However, Riley's comments indicate that the Shaq acquisition was bigger than Wade's acquisition through the 2003 NBA draft. Miami probably wouldn't have won their first championship in 2006 if it wasn't for O'Neal, but then again they wouldn't have won either of their championship without Dwyane Wade, the greatest player in the Heat franchise history.
One has to wonder, would these comments be different if Wade stayed in Miami this summer?