Penny Hardaway Says ‘If Shaq Had Stayed, We Would’ve Won Championships’

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Another ‘what could’ve been’ in the basketball world. Penny Hardaway, who celebrates his 52nd birthday today, and Shaquille O’Neal were one of the best duos in the NBA. During their time together in Orlando, Shaq was a three-time All-Star, while Penny was a two-time All-Star.

Kind of a disheartening that those Orlando teams with Shaq and Penny never won a title.

Their best achievement, arguably was going to the Finals in 1995 after beating the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the team became complacent and was swept by Hakeem’s Houston Rockets in the Finals. The following season, the Chicago Bulls had their sweet revenge against the Magic in the ECF, and things took a down turn from there—Shaq left Orlando and Penny’s career got derailed by injuries.

When Penny Hardaway sat down with HoopsHype in a Q and A session, he talked about what could have happened had the two stayed together.

Per HoopsHype:


Q: If you had played most or all of your career with Shaq, do you think you’d get more credit? And what do you think would’ve happened if you two had stayed together?

Penny Hardaway: “Yeah, definitely. Obviously, if I wouldn’t have gotten injured, I would have a different ending to my story. And I know hindsight is always 20/20, but I really feel like if Shaq would’ve stayed, I definitely would’ve been way more successful and gotten more credit because we would’ve won championships.”


Penny Hardaway made two more All-Stars appearances after Shaq left Orlando, but most of his career, unfortunately was ruined by numerous injuries.

The Orlando Magic also never were the same after one of the most lethal one-two punches in the league parted ways. They won 41 games in 1997 and lost in the first round against the Heat. They missed the playoffs the next season, then came back in 1999 but suffered another first round loss—this was also Penny’s last season with the team. Shaq, meanwhile, continued his dominance and went on to have one of the greatest careers in league history.

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