On July 14th in 2004, the Miami Heat acquired 7'1" center Shaquille O'Neal in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The trade, that was done nearly a month after O'Neal and the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals, brought the curtains to the Kobe-Shaq era in Los Angeles.
At that time, O'Neal was a former league MVP (2000) coming off four Finals appearances in five years where he led the Lakers to three straight championships (2000-02) and was named Finals MVP each time. He was an 11-time All-Star with career averages of 27.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game.
In the deal, the Heat traded Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, a 2006 first-round pick (Jordan Farmar was later selected) and a 2007 2nd round draft pick (Renaldas Seibutis was later selected).
O'Neal would spend the next 3.5 seasons with the Heat before being traded to the Phoenix Suns midway through the 2007-08 season.
He was named an All-Star during each of his three full seasons with the Heat. More importantly, he played a key role along with young superstar guard Dwyane Wade in leading the franchise to its first-ever championship in 2006 against the Dallas Mavericks.
The dominant centre averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks in 205 regular-season games for the Heat. Meanwhile, in 40 playoff games, he put up 18.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks.
Despite his relatively short tenure with the team, O'Neal's impact was tremendous. And on December 12 in 2016, the Heat retired his #32.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime player," Heat President and former coach Pat Riley said. "There are a lot of them in the history of the NBA, but he's a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition for us and meant so much to us."
"We would not have won the championship in 2006 without the efforts of Shaquille O'Neal."
Another notable event on July 14th
- Also in 2004, the Phoenix Suns signed Steve Nash as a free agent. The Canadian would spend his next eight years with the Suns franchise, during which he would win many accolades, most notably, his two league MVP awards in 2005 and 2006.
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