Shaquille O’Neal Reveals He Wanted To Join Mavs To Team Up With Dirk Nowitzki


Recently, on his own podcast – The Big Podcast with Shaq – Shaquille O’Neal revealed that he had a strong desire to join forces with Dirk Nowitzki, who was his guest on the episode, in Dallas—a move that could have reshaped the NBA landscape.

It was 2004, and Shaq was looking for a new home after a storied stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. His eyes were set on the Dallas Mavericks, a team that boasted the talents of Dirk Nowitzki, a player who was carving out his own legend in the league. O’Neal, known for his dominant presence in the paint, saw the potential for a dynamic duo that could challenge the best.


Shaquille O’Neal: “I tried to get to Dallas many times. Me and Mark Cuban were working behind the scenes. I thought Mark was the first person I called.”

Dirk Nowitzki: “It never worked. I remember there were rumblings at the time, and then you obviously went to Miami and then beat us in ’06.”

Shaquille O’Neal: “I called Mark, ‘Whatever you have to do to get me there.’ He’s like, ‘The Lakers won’t do it, man!’ I was like, ‘Make them do it, Mark!’ But they didn’t do it. That would have been nice.”



Shaq’s revelation sheds light on the backroom discussions that almost brought him to the Mavericks. He shared that he and then-Mavericks owner Mark Cuban were actively working to make the dream a reality. Shaq even reached out to Cuban directly, urging him to do whatever it took to facilitate the trade.

However, the Lakers’ front office stood firm. They were unwilling to trade Shaq to another Western Conference team, especially one that was on the cusp of contention. The Lakers’ insistence on receiving Nowitzki in return—a condition Cuban was not prepared to meet—ultimately scuttled the deal.

Had the trade gone through, the NBA might have witnessed one of the most formidable frontcourts in its history. Shaq, still in the latter half of his prime, combined with Nowitzki, who was approaching his MVP peak, would have been a sight to behold. The city of Dallas, which had to wait until 2011 for its championship glory, might have celebrated much sooner.

In the end, Shaq moved to the Miami Heat, where he would go on to win his fourth ring, while Nowitzki stayed loyal to Dallas, eventually leading them to their first title. Their legacies are secure, but the thought of them joining forces will always be a tantalizing footnote in their storied careers.

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